Home Your Tech Mobility It’s the Facebook Phone – sort of
It’s the Facebook Phone – sort of Featured

Facebook has made its long awaited smartphone announcement. It’s not a phone as such, but rather a large family of apps that sits on the home screen of Android phones.

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.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.