Well, Facebook has finally done it. While many observers where expecting Facebook to announce an actual device, it has done the next best thing. It has announced Facebook Home, a suite of apps that make an Android smartphone a Facebook oriented hub. (We predicted this in iTWire yesterday).
Facebook Home will be available in the US on 12 April. Rumours had abounded before the launch this morning (Australian time). Many centred around Facebook’s relationship with Taiwanese smartphone supplier HTC, with many expecting that company to manufacture a Facebook branded device.
What has actually been announced is not far from that. HTC will ship its ‘First” phone, a US$99 device with a 4.3 inch screen and 4G capability that will include Facebook apps as a software skin, or layer, on top of Android. IT will be available through AT&T Mobility in the US, with carriers and release dates in other countries yet to be announced.
See HTC’s announcement on YouTube here.
Facebook Home is part of the company’s move to shift its focus from “apps and tasks to people,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Rather than seeing a set of apps tiles on the phone’s home screen users will see a Facebook page optimised for the phone’s screen, with updates from Facebook feeds, photos and the like.
“We think this is the best version of Facebook there is,” Zuckerberg predictably said at the launch in Facebook’s Silicon Valley HQ. “Home isn’t a phone or operating system, but it’s also more than just an app. It is a completely new experience that lets you see the world through people, not apps.”
Facebook Home will not be available on iPhones (can you imagine Apple allowing that?) and won’t work on all Android phones. But it will be available as a free download on the HTC One X, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the S4, which will be available soon. More devices will be supported later.
No Australian release date has been announced. But Australia has one of the largest Facebook communities on earth, and we are traditionally not far behind the US with such announcements. Expect it here by June.