Aspects of Facebook’s new product for Android appear to be leaking ahead of the company’s scheduled announcement this Thursday. The consensus from multiple reports is that the social network will release a modified version of Android, a phone by HTC and “Facebook Home,” software that any Android device can run to give users a more socially integrated homescreen experience.
Facebook hasn’t offered any information about these possible products except a press invitation that included the phrase, “Come see our new home on Android.” TechCrunch reports that Facebook has altered the Android operating system to build in more social functionality, including features from News Feed and Messenger. The New York Times also has sources corroborating this. The OS might not be a full Android fork, such as what Amazon has done for its Kindle Fire, as TechCrunch says Facebook scaled back its ambitions when some key team members left the company.
This modified version of Android is likely to be running on a new device by Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC, which has worked with Facebook in the past to integrate the social network into its devices. 9to5Google’s sources, who are involved with a marketing campaign for the new phone, say it includes a 4.3-inch display and an iPhone-like “home button” at the bottom center of the device, with horizontal function keys to the left and right.
AndroidPolice got access to a “system dump” for the upcoming release, which includes code and files that hint at what will be announced. The HTC phone, code-named Myst, has a special Facebook app that includes all the necessary permissions to operate as a homescreen app, also known as a “launcher.” According to the files, Facebook’s will be called “Facebook Home” and will include shortcuts to create posts and a chat feature called “Chat Heads” which will run continuously in the background.
There are pieces of code that suggest Facebook Home will be available for download on other Android devices besides the HTC “Myst.” Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android allows users to run third-party launchers. This matches TechCrunch’s suggestion that Facebook would not limit its homescreen experience to a single device and manufacturer.
InsideFacebook will be covering the social network’s launch event live from Facebook HQ on Thursday.