Facebook launched its new approach to Android, called Home, which brings a variety of Facebook features front and center on the mobile device. The company is partnering with HTC and AT&T to release the $99 HTC First device, which comes preloaded with Home. People can also download Home on certain Android devices (although it won’t have all the features): the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, as well as the forthcoming HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
See the live blog below:
Facebook is preparing to host an event to talk about a new Android product at the social network’s Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters today and we’re live-blogging it.Facebook has said it plans to show off its new “home on Android.” The company is widely expected to announce a new version of Android or a new type of Android app that will run on an HTC device. Speculation has focused on a “Facebook phone,” though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long said it does not want to get into the hardware game. The device
would include a Facebook “Home” app designed to highlight Facebook.
Facebook has been pushing hard on mobile, with Zuckerberg emphasizing Facebook as a “mobile first” company. But Facebook has been trying to keep pace with new entrants such as SnapChat, the mobile app that enables people to send messages or photos that immediately disappear.
Here we go: Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage: “We’re going to talk about that Facebook phone.” Not really. “We’re going to talk about how to make your phone a great social device.”
We spend 20% of our time on phones on Facebook, not counting Instagram, Zuck says. We spend our lives sharing. ”What would happen if our phones were designed around people not apps?” Zuck says. “Today our phones are designed around apps, not people. We’re going to flip that around.”
For example this has happened before, he says, showing the Facebook News Feed. Instead of a list of apps you get fresh content. “It gave it (Facebook) this soul… We don’t want to build a phone or operating system that some people will use,” he says. “Even if we did build a really good phone we’d only serve 1% of our community… We’re not building a phone. We’re not building an operating system.”
Android is very open, Zuck says, so you can make many changes to it. “You don’t need to fork Android to do this… Today we’re going to talk about the Home Screen of your phone.”
Zuck is showing the new “Cover Feed” of Facebook Home, with visual photos that take up the whole screen. They include new-style notifications, with a person’s name and face instead of a traditional notification. We wanted this to feel like system software, not just an app you run, he says.
Apps: You tap the bottom of the screen to see three options: Messenger, Apps and your most-recently-used app. You swipe up to get all your apps, such as Google maps, Instagram, Evernote.
Messaging: Zuck shows “chat heads” which are messages from friends that pop up as faces in circle icons from the Facebook messaging app. When you’re done you can “throw them away.” They work for Facebook messages and SMS.
Adam Mosseri, director of product, takes the stage: He’s showing a live demo Cover Feed, a the new News Feed. Each one has a full screen photo. Open Graph images show up as well. You can double tap to “Like” it. Status updates also flow through as well. You can the bottom to make a comment. It includes very simple gestures. There’s no navigation or borders, to emphasize the content and photos.
Notifications: are messages like Facebook messenges or notifications from people.Joey Flynn, product designer, is talking about Chat Heads. When someone posts an article, you can click the person’s face to see the article. On the edge of the article is the Chat Head, which shows his profile picture. If you click it you can see the discussion about the article on Facebook. Text messages and Facebook messages both use this feature. He just got a message from his roommates in a group chat… about rent.
How do you get it? You download the new Facebook app and Facebook Messenger from Google Play–but in only works on select Android devices. It’s not on tablets yet but will be in several months. System software or an operating system is usually updated once a year. We don’t think that’s fast enough. We’re going to release updates every month, he says. How are we going to build this? Will we Fork Android? No, that’s not the right way to do this, he says.