For the past several months, rumors have been turning up periodically about Facebook launching their own phone, which would compete in the mobile space along with iPhone and Android. Recently, the Silicon Valley company announced an upcoming press conference, which took place earlier today.
At this announcement, Mark Zuckerberg stated that they wished to change the way people interact with phones. This was the intro to Facebook’s new product, Facebook Home. Built on top of Android, Home totally reworks the interface of Android, turning it into a Facebook machine. This doesn’t quite match expectations, and Facebook was clear to note that this is not a new phone or operating system. CBS News reports:
Zuckerberg went on to elaborate that the company is not announcing a new phone or operating system. Instead, the social network is launching a new “experience” called Home, which is a collection of apps that features a home screen and user interface that is focused around Facebook.
The first phone to feature Facebook Home was developed by HTC in tandem with Facebook, and is dubbed the HTC First. The first is available for preorder now, and is going for $100. Although this is the “official” Facebook phone, Facebook Home will function on any already existing Android device. As the weeks progress, we will likely see more and more companies implementing Home as an option on their devices.
In terms of features, Facebook Home brings extensive customizations to the familiar mobile OS. The home screen of the device, instead of pages of apps, features the Facebook News Feed. Furthermore, throughout the system, it is always easy to post statuses, so you can always easily share what you are doing.
For connecting with others, Facebook Home has Chat Heads, a messaging service that encompasses Facebook messages as well as texting. Unlike other messaging systems, Chat Heads is integrated system-wide into the UI of the device, so that it always accessible no matter where you are. Responding to a text will no longer take you away from whatever you are doing, and you can keep the chat open on the screen while you continue your work.
Overall, Facebook Home appears to have a very polished UI, and is quite focused on changing how users interact with their phone. It should be interesting to see if, and how, Apple responds. You can check out Facebook’s promo of Home here. What do you think? Could this spell trouble for Apple’s iPhone and iOS?