Facebook today announced a new Android homescreen experience called Home that more deeply integrates the social network’s features into any Android phone or tablet.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the goal of Home is to “transform your Android phone into a great social device” by making the phone less about apps and more about people. While the phone is in lockscreen mode, Home displays the latest photos and updates from a user’s friends in what Facebook is calling “cover feed.” Notifications and messages appear there with users’ profile pictures.
Contrary to expectations that have been around for years and even recent reports, Facebook did not reveal its own mobile operating system modified from Android.
“We’re not building a phone and we’re not building an operating system,” Zuckerberg said, noting that Home didn’t require the company to fork Android or build its own OS. “Because of Google’s commitment to openness you can have experiences on Android that you can’t on other devices.”
Cover feed, with fullscreen photos and options to Like and comment directly from the lockscreen, is one unique experience. Another is what Facebook calls “Chat Heads.” Facebook and SMS messages appear on the screen and can be responded to, no matter what app a user is in at the time. From the homescreen, users have the options to create status updates, check in or share photos to Facebook.
Home will be available for select devices via Google Play on April 12, including the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II. Home will also work on the forthcoming HTC One and Samsung GALAXY S4, and will be available pre-installed on phones through the Facebook Home Program. The company says Home will be updated monthly and a tablet version is in development.