Facebook Skins Android With "Home", Announces $99.99 HTC First Partner Device
April 4, 2013 3:17 PM
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Tight integration on the world's most-used smartphone operating system is Facebook's Goal
IPhone, what? Facebook.com, Inc. (
) let it be known that its preference is with the masses,
a new user interface called "Home" that's built atop Google Inc.'s (
) Android, the world's most-used smartphone operating system.
I. Android Gets a Fresh Paint Job
Android OEMs like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) 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 (
) 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",
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 III
, 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
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. (
). It is available in black, white, red and blue and will be AT&T, Inc. (
) 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).
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
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."
HTC [First announcement]
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RE: Don't get it
4/5/2013 2:01:44 AM
Why would you think it's made for people like you? Why would you think that using Facebook a lot means you're a shut-in? Social media is global, and a lot of people have friends and relatives that are too far away and social media sites are the only way to connect.
The world doesn't revolve around your ego. These were never made for you, you're inconsequential.
RE: Don't get it
4/5/2013 9:34:47 AM
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.
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
4/5/2013 9:37:55 AM
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
4/5/2013 11:25:20 AM
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
4/6/2013 1:14:38 AM
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!
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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