After the rumor mill talked about the Facebook Phone over the past couple of months, HTC and Facebook just announced world’s first smartphone to come pre-loaded with Facebook Home, a family of apps developed for the popular social network that is capable of controlling the Homescreen, Lockscreen, and other settings of the terminal.
Named HTC First in order to let us know it is the first of its kind, the smartphone benefits form a Super LCD3 display with a diagonal of 4.3 inches and a resolution of 720 x 1,280 pixels, corresponding to a pixel density of 341 ppi.
The hardware platform is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, HTC First becoming one of the world’s first smartphones powered by the chipset dedicated to the mid-range segment. The HTC First boasts dual-core Krait CPU clocked at 1.3 GHz, Adreno 305 graphics processing unit, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage (microSD cards are not supported).
The Facebook Phone technical specifications list also includes a 5 megapixel camera with BSI sensor, front-facing 1.6 megapixel camera, and all the connectivity options worthy of a modern smartphone, like WiFi in all standards, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC. The HTC First is kept alive by a 2,000 mAh battery, thus it should be capable of providing decent battery life.
The hardware configuration recommends the freshly launched Facebook Phone as a mid-range smartphone, therefore the HTC First will not be a direct competitor for the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, or iPhone 5S. This is perfectly logical given that Facebook is interested to make the HTC First attractive in terms of technical specifications, but in the same time affordable for a wide range of customers.
HTC First stands out courtesy of its software platform. The Facebook Phone is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, but its interface is highly personalized by Facebook Home, a family of apps which makes the famous social network the central piece of the smartphone.
Therefore, Facebook Home is replacing the traditional homecreen with Cover Feed, an app that allows the user to easily take a look at the latest Facebook news and updates. As you can see in the demo video below, the Cover Feed is pretty intuitive: you touch the display to view a photo in full-screen, then duble-tap it to Like it.
Another application that comes integrated in Facebook Home is Chat heads. As you’ve probably guessed it is a new type of messaging service. When you receive a Facebook message, you will receive a notification and you will be able to replay without leaving the application you are currently in.
Least, but not last, Facebook Notifications is a feature that allows you to view your notifications in an easier way. The notifications will appear on the screen “on top” of the current app and they can be removed with a simple swipe gesture.
HTC First with Facebook Home will hit the stores in US as of April 12th, but the smartphones availability for the European market is yet unknown.
The new HTC First will not be the only smartphone out there to feature Facebook Home. The application will also be available in Google Play starting April 12th and it will have support for several high-end smartphones: HTC One, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Facebook is also planning to launch a special Home version optimized for tablets.
The limited availability of HTC First and Facebook Home family of apps shouldn’t affect the users. Far from bringing a revolution in the segment, Facebook Home is truly useful only for the users that spend a lot of time on the popular social network.
Still, even the “power users” of the social network might find the way the Facebook is integrated on the smartphone via Facebook Home is a bit annoying. After all, when you unlock your smartphone to check and email or call a fried you might not bump over the latest Facebook updates, which will do nothing else than distract you at the moment.
Moreover, Facebook confirmed that its new Facebook Home will have adds in the near future, which means that you will also bump into them right from the moment you turn on your smartphone, both on the lockscreen and homescreen.
You can watch the three videos below to make a general idea of how Facebook Home works. Do you find social network giant’s new family of apps useful? Please let us know in the comments section below.