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  (Source: YouTube)
Tight integration on the world's most-used smartphone operating system is Facebook's Goal

IPhone, what?  Facebook.com, Inc. (FB) let it be known that its preference is with the masses, debuting a new user interface called "Home" that's built atop Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android, the world's most-used smartphone operating system.

I. Android Gets a Fresh Paint Job

Android OEMs like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) typically take the base UI -- say Ice Cream Sandwich -- and then build their own UI gloss atop it (e.g. Samsung's TouchWiz UI or HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) Sense UI).  The new Facebook app adds yet one more layer atop those OEM UIs.

Despite the fact that Android is now running a base UI, plus two custom skins (the OEM UI and Facebook's addition) performance at a demo at Facebook's California Menlo Park headquarters felt "incredibly native", according to The Verge.


The new Facebook UI modifies your homescreen and lockscreen via an app called CoverFeed that pushes updates and communications to your device.  



Some updates are even visible when your phone is locked (that should get interesting from a privacy standpoint).

II. Apps Ensure No Matter Where You Are in Android, Facebook is Near
 
When using apps, a new UI charm now appears atop running apps, with round face icons called "Chatheads" that represent your friends you're talking to.  Click on a Chathead and the running conversation pops up, without exiting your current app.  The Chatheads also unify messaging for known contacts, using Facebook Chat/Messaging when possible, but falling back on SMS if necessary.

 
Facebook has also made a new app launcher and app drawer, to help prioritize your favorite Android apps.



The kit will also bundle Facebook's popular photo-doctoring software, Instagram.

While the Home app kit will eventually be available on a "wide range of [Android] devices]", including tablets, it will initially be only available on a handful of top sellers -- the HTC One and One X, and the Samsung Galaxy S IIIGalaxy S4, and Galaxy Note II.

It will be available on those select smartphones starting April 12 via the Google Play store.  Current users of Facebook's first-party Android app will be asked whether they want to try out the new UI/apps.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that Android is his company's top priority.  He said that new features will be launching for Home every month, and that his company would tireless work to roll out smooth support for lower-end Android models.

III. HTC First is First Smartphone to Preload Home

Alongside the announcement, HTC and Facebook announced the anticipated "Facebook Phone": the HTC First.  HTC and Facebook have worked together closely in the past on the ChaCha, Status, and Salsa smartphones, which had Facebook integration built tightly into their UI.

For all the months of rumors and hype the First does not appear to be the high-end device some had hoped for.  It has a modest 4.3-inch 1280 x 720p SLCD3 display combined with an LTE-endowed Snapdragon 400 1.5 GHz dual-core processor from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM).  It is available in black, white, red and blue and will be AT&T, Inc. (T) exclusive.  The phone isn't exactly a killer when it comes to memory (1 GB) and camera resolutions (5 megapixel rear, 1.6 front camera).  

HTC First


Embattled HTC CEO Peter Chou calls the HTC First the "ultimate social phone".  Priced at $99 USD with new two-year contract, it will be one of the cheapest devices to support Facebook Home (that makes it half the price of the HTC One on contract.  And it's the first device to have Home preinstalled.

The HTC First's specs are somewhat similar to Samsung's year-old Galaxy S III, which recently also dropped down to $99.99 USD, with the impending launch of the Galaxy S IV.  However, the GS3 has the edge in screen-size and camera resolution.

Overall the First is pretty underwhelming from a hardware standpoint, but it may appeal to some budget buyers.  AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega brags that the First is "the most immersive engagement I've ever seen."

Sources: Facebook, HTC [First announcement], The Verge



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Don't get it
By Ammohunt on 4/4/2013 4:46:38 PM , Rating: 2
A facebook centric UI for a smartphone why would i want such a limited device? people that need something like this where their life centers around facebook really need go outside once and a while and get some real social interaction.




RE: Don't get it
By othercents on 4/4/2013 4:53:24 PM , Rating: 2
I expect that many people have only one social media that they share their life on with their friends and family. Because of this someone could use this Facebook UI and get all the social interaction that they need. Add in a mail application and many people don't use much more. Facebook, Mail, and Phone.

Beyond that they are outside at events taking pictures and commenting on stuff they are doing with their friends. This UI is actually more social than the stock launcher getting what you live into your social media stream.

The bad part is you become the target market where they are watching your every GPS move.

Other


RE: Don't get it
By retrospooty on 4/4/2013 5:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
" people that need something like this where their life centers around facebook really need go outside "

True... But alot of people do live on Facebook. I don't get it either.


RE: Don't get it
By insurgent on 4/5/13, Rating: 0
RE: Don't get it
By half_duplex on 4/5/2013 9:34:47 AM , Rating: 2
No, he makes a very good point.

I have FB and I have noticed more and more that peoples lives are centered around it. In particular, looking for something... anything... that they can post to FB that will get comments and likes and attention.

For example, people who constantly post photos of them self that they took either in their car or in their bathroom. Also, I'd guess at least 10% of the photos on FB are of greasy burgers, sushi or pizza. I cannot go a day without seeing a friend post their lunch.

As if I've never seen a California roll.

Go to a professional sporting event or something like Cirque du Soleil. The purpose is no longer to enjoy the event, but to get the most FB photo evidence that you were there.

Pathetic.

I enjoy FB, but people are sadly using it to abstract themselves from REAL socialization. If you need to communicate with THAT many virtual friends who are "too far away"... you may want to consider finding more local friends.

*I check FB every hour.


RE: Don't get it
By half_duplex on 4/5/2013 9:37:55 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's the use of FB that is the problem... it's the amount of time and energy that many people spend on it that's so bizarre.

Facebook is wonderful, but so are Crispy Creme donuts.


RE: Don't get it
By Ammohunt on 4/5/2013 11:25:20 AM , Rating: 2
I think i made it clear that this is not something for me and for the record I had a facebook account for a few years and like i have stated elsewhere it turned into a personal vanity site for me and a means for others to relay and endless list of mindless and vacuous details about themselves. The handful of "Friends" i cared about i had social contact by other substantial means the rest i could give a rats ass about; just at a high level a collection monologues.

Perhaps i am old school but i know how to interact with people face to face without the anonymity of a smart phone via texting or a facebook posting, i can't say the same for the kids i meet nowadays most haven't learned basic interpersonal skills and the ability to pick up non verbal queues...my 14 year old nephew communicates in video game speak being a gamer i can half understand what he says...I suppose if i really want to ask how he is doing i should text him.

I love that i am egotistical and inconsequential because i am not a frothing at the mouth fan of social media(even though i work to help develop a social media platform for a living); thanks for proving my point.


RE: Don't get it
By Alexvrb on 4/6/2013 1:14:38 AM , Rating: 1
Sometimes I just call it what it is, Fakebook. I know too many people that live dual lives... their real life, and their Fakebook life. In their real life, they have just as many issues as anyone else. Work sucks, their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse is an a-hole, money is tight, family is disfunctional, they waste their money on stupid shit and then beg parents for more, etc.

What they show you on Fakebook... man everything is perfect. Perfect life, nothing bad ever happens, and they compete with friends to see who has the best Fakebook life. They'll have you thinking they're the luckiest, nicest, most caring person on the planet, meanwhile they won't visit their dad in the hospital in the real world because they're too busy. Good luck dad, hope you pull through, I need money for a new phone that takes better pics for my online faux life!

Then there's the attention whores. They talk (and complain) about everything, comment on everything, give bad advice, are knowledgeable on all subjects and are offended when you question their wisdom - and otherwise post their daily life looking for attention. I actually generally prefer this, because at least I know where they stand (mostly), even if I am disgusted by their constant "First World Problems".

That doesn't even cover Instaho, I mean Instagram. Talk about narcissism... how many attention-seeking pictures of themselves can a person post before they die of a drug overdose? I don't know, let's find out!


RE: Don't get it
By xti on 4/5/2013 8:39:32 AM , Rating: 2
i hope you realize that you are the minority. all those people outside, most of them have FB.


RE: Don't get it
By nafhan on 4/5/2013 10:16:59 AM , Rating: 2
It sounds like you don't get this (and maybe don't understand what a launcher is). It's not limiting what you can do in any meaningful sense - normal Android functionality is still fully present.

What this is doing is presenting information differently, and allowing one to more easily react to that set of information. If that data is not useful to you, don't use the product.

I'd say the number of smart phone users whose smart phone use essentially revolves around FB is high enough that this may be a useful product for quite a few people.

I probably will not use this myself, but I do think it's a good move on the part of Facebook. A much better move than making a "Facebook phone"! They've literally turned every handset into a potential Facebook phone. I'm impressed.


RE: Don't get it
By Tony Swash on 4/5/2013 10:18:32 AM , Rating: 1
Given their intense rivalry with Facebook I wonder what Google makes of this initiative?

I am not into Facebook but appears hundreds of millions of people are so this could turn out a big deal. Dan Frommer has a perceptive take on it:

quote:
Facebook unveiled its long-awaited mobile phone platform today. It is, as assumed, a Facebook “layer” on top of Google Android. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, or even take a detailed look at the presentation. But I can already see where it might be useful and popular.

I don’t expect many happy iPhone users to bolt to Facebook phones — not yet, at least. Apple still has a big lead in hardware and OS quality, apps, media, and customer service.

I also don’t expect hardcore Android users — the type of people who buy and love Samsung Galaxy Notes, or Google Nexus devices — to jump to Facebook devices. That’s not the target audience.

But that’s hardly the entire phone market. It’s actually only a fraction of it.

What about those millions of people who have bought Android phones — and some iPhones, probably — who don’t really care that they’re Android phones, or even smartphones?

The types of people who, every couple of years, go into the Verizon or AT&T shop and walk out with whatever newish thing the store rep says they should buy? (All those people who buy Android phones but don’t really show up in usage logs.)

Or even first-time smartphone buyers?

My guess is that many — most? — of these people are Facebook users, and could easily see some utility in having Facebook features highlighted on their phones. And — bonus — Facebook’s software looks good. Much better than the junk that ships with typical low-end Android devices.

Boom. Done. Easy, defensible purchase, assuming the price is right.

Facebook isn’t likely to MySpace Android or iOS any time soon. But this is a smart, ambitious project for Facebook. I like it.


RE: Don't get it
By Tony Swash on 4/5/2013 10:28:30 AM , Rating: 1
Here are two opposing articles about Facebook Home both at Tech.pinions.

From Patrick Moorhead

http://techpinions.com/why-google-shouldnt-be-conc...

From Steve Wildstrom

http://techpinions.com/facebook-home-the-death-of-...

I tend towards Wildstrom's view but Moorhead makes some good points. Time will tell who is right.


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