After all that speculation, the Facebook Phone is here. And it’s not just one device. In fact, it can be the device you have in your pocket today. The Facebook Home app experience will be available as a download from Google Play so that you can install it on your existing phone.
So what is the Facebook Home experience? In a few words, it’s Chat Heads, Cover Feed, Notifications, and Apps. While AT&T and HTC would to see you spend a few hundred dollars over the next few years, Facebook could probably care less. No, the social media giant would rather just see you draw ever closer to their services.
Speaking of services, here’s what to expect in a Facebook Home experience:
Cover feed: A constant, fresh stream of photos and updates from your newsfeed, cover feed is always present when you wake up your phone. It lets you stay up-to-date on your friends’ latest activities in real-time, all the time. You can swipe through to see more photos and updates, double tap to “like” a post and comment right from cover feed.
Notifications: Notifications from apps and friends appear right on your home screen. It’s easier to see when you have a missed call, calendar reminder or new message. Open a notification with a double tap or clear them away to see your Cover Feed.
Chat Heads: The mobile messenger lets you jump in and out of conversations while you do other things, like watch a video and browse the web. Reply right from chat heads, or move them around if you’re not ready to respond. Plus you can send and receive texts and Facebook messages from the same spot.
App Launcher: See your favorite apps and post right to Facebook from the same spot. You choose what’s on your app launcher—press and hold an app then drag it anywhere.
Instagram: HTC First is the only phone that comes with Instagram pre-loaded.
Indeed this is an experience that could be summed up as a Launcher or home screen interface. Aptly named as Home, it functions as a direct link to Facebook at all times. Starting from the moment you power that screen on to the time you turn it off again, Facebook will be ever-present and alert. Messages can come in across the top of your screen, chat lets you get in touch with friends and family, and you’ve got Instagram filters to touch up your pictures of fingernails/hair/sushi/One Direction.
Facebook expects that the Facebook Home software will be updated once a month and will improve with each iteration. Looking down the road a few months, Facebook Home will be made available for tablets as well.
While AT&T and HTC have collaborated on the HTC First, there are a number of other partners lined up to work with Facebook. Among those mentioned today are Samsung, Sony, Huawei, EE, Orange, Lenovo, and ZTE. We don’t expect AT&T to lock down the U.S. industry on Facebook Home devices so look for additional carriers to climb on board.
If you think this is all a little bit too heavy handed, consider that this is what Facebook envisions for the platform. Speaking at today’s event, Mark Zuckerberg advised that he feels this is the best Facebook experience you can get. When asked if there is potential for an iOS version of this, the CEO said, “We have a great relationship with Apple. Anything that happens with Apple is going to happen with partnership.”
Get used to it, this is the Facebook experience of the future. It just happens to start with phones.