Is it Facebook Home or a Facebook Phone ?

Facebook Home

Facebook tonight revealed the “Facebook Home” which is actually software that runs on top of Google’s Android operating system. So its is not a phone although there is an HTC phone that runs Home but it is rather an app which is not an app.

Confused ? me too.

Facebook made a commitment to mobile and the  next step in that journey is Facebook Home as its entire reason for being is to be “the best social device out there. Our phones today are designed around apps, not people. We want to flip that around.” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains.

So it is an App afterall ?

Nope. Still not clear. Maybe its easier to show what Facebook Home is in their first Home advert:

So Home seems to be made up of 3 main components: 

1. Cover Feed:  When you turn on your phone, you see what your friends are sharing, the images, the stories, the notifications – you simply tap into the ones you want to see and swipe away the ones you don’t want to.

This has a distinct HTC One live feed kind of feel to it…

I also shudder to think about where the ads will be – right on the home screen as we switch the phone on ? oh no you dont !

UPDATE 5 April: just as I feared, according to The Verge,  it has been confirmed that the Ads will be on the Cover Feed as they “are just other form of content” as Mark Zuckerberg describes them. So in other words, Facebook Home will be a mobile billboard that will deliver location based ads disguised as “content”

2. Chat Heads: Instead of having notifications that so-and-so wants to chat, these will appear as heads that allow you to engage in a chat from any app at any point – you simply drag the heads where you want them.

Whilst this may look funky, in reality these faces will pop up everywhere regardless of what you are doing. Trying to focus on one task without interruptions? forget about it.

We will have Chat Heads popping up everywhere irritatingly begging for our attention that we need to stop what we are doing and shooo-them off the screen just to ignore. “Bad Chat Head. Naughty”!

3. App Launcher: You can drag your favorite apps anywhere to make it easier to access. All of these are accessed with various drag motions: Drag to the left to see your messages and to start a chat. Drag up to open your app launcher or post to Facebook. Drag to the right to go back to whatever app you used last. Again has a BlackBerry Flow kind of feel to it.

Facebook Home - CoverFacebook Home - Chat

How do you get Facebook Home ?

There are two ways:

HTC First

The first is to buy the HTC First for $99 from AT&T in the US. It comes in four colours with a 4.3inch screen, 5 megapixel camera and LTE ready. Nicely priced and clearly targeted at the younger generation.

The second way to get Facebook Home is if you own one of these Android phones: HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II. If you do, then on the 12th April you can go into the Google Play store and download Home provided that you already have the Facebook Messenger and Facebook app installed on your phone.

A Tablet version “will be available later” too.

So in Summary:

Facebook Home/ Phone is basically a launcher that takes the various elements of Facebook that we all use and makes them ever simpler, friendlier and optimised for the mobile device.

Nice but not “wow”.

Launchers are not new. These are currently being done by various phone manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, Sony. Ultimately, there are lots of 3rd party launchers that are available on the Google Play store so if you don’t like the launcher that comes with your phone – change it.

I wonder how Google feels about all of this. On the one hand it shows just how strong and well established Android is, but on the other hand it is the platform that one of its biggest rivals is running their success on and it does feel like they are rubbing Google’s nose in it a bit.

First impressions purely from the live announcement: looks nice and slick but not completely blown away. Maybe its one of those things that you have to play with to appreciate.

We wait and see.

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