Facebook unveiled "Home" software on Thursday to place the social network at the center on Android users' smartphones.
The company shot down speculation that it has a phone under wraps. Instead, the social network unveiled a home screen, along with a family of apps, for Android phones.
"There is no phone," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, at a press event in Menlo Park, California, April 4, 2013. "We are going to talk about how you're going to be able to turn your Android phone into a great, simple social device."
Instead, Zuckerberg announced
Home - a family of apps that will let users display mobile versions of their newsfeed and messages prominently on the home screens of a wide range of devices based on Google's Android operating system.
"Cover feed" replaces the lock screen and home screen and it's window into what's happening with your friends. Home appears both in your lock screen and home screen, the content comes right to you. You can flip through to see more stories, and double tap to like what you see.
With "chat heads" you can keep chatting with friends even when you're using other apps. When friends send you messages, a chat head appears with your friend's face, so you see who you're chatting with. Messages reach you no matter what you're doing - whether you're checking email, browsing the web, or listening to music.
You can move chat heads around and respond to messages. And since SMS is integrated into Facebook Messenger for Android, chat heads include Facebook messages as well as texts.
When something happens that's more important and directed at you, like a friend posting on your timeline, you'll receive notifications with their profile pictures. To open notifications, just tap them. And if you don't want to deal with them right now, you can just swipe to hide them and keep flipping through cover feed until you want them back.
It's as easy to get to your apps in Home as it is on any other phone. Swipe up to see your favorite apps in the launcher. There's also a screen containing all of your apps, and you can drag your favorite apps to the launcher.
Home will be available as a free download from the Google Play Store starting April 12. Home works on the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II. Home will also work on the forthcoming HTC One and Samsung GALAXY S4, and on more devices in the coming months.
Home will also be available pre-installed on phones through the Facebook Home Program. HTC and AT&T are the first companies working together to deliver a phone with Home. It's called the HTC First and it goes on sale April 12 for $100. HTC First will be available in four colors: black, white, red and pale blue. It comes with a 4.3-inch glass display. Inside, the smartphone runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with the new Facebook Home experience and incorporates a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with dual-core CPU and 3G/4G world and multimode LTE so you can enjoy the richest content on AT&T's blazing fast 4G LTE network. The smartphone will also come with Instagram pre-loaded.