During an event held yesterday at Facebook headquarters in California, Mark Zuckerberg officially announced Facebook Home for Android, together with the new HTF First.
Facebook Home is a “family of apps” that will replace the lockscreen and homescreen of your Android-powered smartphone, that will provide a flux of Facebook updates on the screen. It will be called Cover Feed. Each photo comes with a description and the user will be able to comment or like. If you double-tap on the screen you are liking the photo and a single tap will open a window where you will be able to post a comment.
The integration with Facebook Messenger came along, too. The messages notifications system is not longer containing just the names, but also your friend’s profile pictures. In the lower end of the display, you will find, most of the times, the profile photo of the smartphone’s owner. A long touch on your profile photo will bring a page with all the installed applications. The icons of the applications installed on your device running Facebook Home are displayed in a way similar to stock Android. The biggest difference are the three buttons you will find above the apps, which will allow you to quickly post an update on your personal Facebook profile.
Facebook Home will be available for download in Google Play, starting April 12th. For the time being, Facebook Home only received support for HTC One, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2. In a couple of months the new “family of apps” will also become available for tablets.
Initially Facebook Home will not come with ads, but Mark Zuckerberg announced and confirmed our fears that at some point in the evolution of the newly launched system, advertising will be placed on your smartphone’s lockscreen and homescreen.
If you are a fan of the widgets and folders placed right on the homescreen, the Facebook Home is not for you. Unfortunately, at least in the first versions, the support for the dynamic elements of this Android-specific category will not arrive.
At the same press conference, Peter Chou announced HTC First, world’s first smartphone to come pre-installed with Facebook Home. It will be available in four body colors: red, light blue, white and black. HTC First will be sold on the US territory via AT&T at a price of $99 with a two year contract. Even though it wasn’t announced when or at what price, it will arrive in Europe, we know for sure that EE and Orange France will be two of first non-US carriers to have it in their portfolio.
HTC First sports a 4.3-inch display with 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution and protected against scratches by a Gorilla Glass 2 layer. The smartphone is already up for pre-order in US, and the first devices will be shipped as of April 12.
The list of HTC First technical specifications also include a dual-core 1.4 GHz Qualcom Snapdragon 400 processor, Adreno 305 GPU, 1 GB of RAM, a 5 megapixel camera with BSI sensor and full HD video recording support. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean-powered smartphone also packs a 1.6 megapixel camera, 4G LTe, microUSB, WiFi, and a 2,000 mAh battery.
The difference between the experience delivered by HTC First and other smartphones with Facebook Home installed from Google Play might not be huge. Probably, with HTC First the integration between the hardware and Home will be deeper.