After years of speculation, Mark Zuckerberg talked about that Facebook Phone. Introducing 'Home,' a deep software integration with Android, that takes over the homescreen and designs your phone around "people, not apps." HTC's Peter Chou also took to the stage at the social network's campus in California to announce the HTC First, a hardware realisation of Facebook's vision.
We spend as much as a quarter of our time using phones on Facebook and Instagram, so the concept of Home' essentially brings this interaction to the operating system itself, turning it into a Facebook phone.
This idea of basing the phone around "people, not apps" is a deep running philosophy throughout the entire software. Notifications are sorted by friends, not apps. They inform you of your friend doing something, rather than updating you about what's new in an app. This strongly gesture-based system overhauls the homescreen and lockscreen with a feature called Coverfeed, giving your immediate access to your News Feed without launching an app. Swipe through, 'like' and comment on any updates, which will include adverts "soon."
Messaging is broken, according to Zuckerberg and Facebook. A disjointed experience where friends are filed into separate applications is something they are actively combatting in Facebook Home with "Chat heads." Your conversation will hover over the top of any app you're using, expanding when you just tap on your friend's face.
It works across both SMS and Facebook messaging, which Chat heads unifies by just altering the colours of each chat within the window based on what technology you're using to send it: blue for Facebook and Green for text. This makes for one of the more integrated messaging solutions we've seen on Android, keeping these conversations as a priority without being a distraction.
Facebook has a monthly update schedule planned, bringing constant redesigns and new features at a more regular basis than other operating systems.
This incredible visual experience makes for a huge departure from the Android user interface, feeling more like a native operating system rather than a set of apps. Home will be available starting April 12th, but only on the HTC One and One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy Note II. It can be installed from Google Play, and doesn't 'Fork' Android at all, thanks to the open source nature of the operating system. Over these next months, it will be coming to a "wide range of devices," including tablets.