By: Rich DeMuro
It’s the brand new Facebook app that brings social network front and center on Android devices.
After years of speculation, the rumors of a Facebook phone have come to an end. The social network giant introduced, Thursday, Facebook Home, a collection of apps built on top of Google’s Android operating system.
And delivering the first fully integrated experience will be HTC’s new phone, First.
“Today, we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg during an announcement held at the company’s campus in Menlo Park.
Facebook’s already on just about every smartphone, but now, the company is taking social networking one step farther with a more seamless, Android integration.
“What would it be like if our phones were designed around people, not apps?” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s Home, is a family of apps that together creates Home on the phone.
The salient of the new features is an active lock/home screen that displays pictures from your friends’ feeds.
“It’s a visually rich picture that we’re calling Coverfeed,” said Adam Mosseri, director of product for Facebook.
Double tap to “like” the pictures– an obvious nod to recent acquisition of Instagram.
“It’s the content first,” Mosseri said.
Beyond the home screen the seamless integration to Facebook continues. A feature called Chat Heads makes messaging easier.
“You should really be able to talk to your friends, no matter where you’re at in your phone, no matter what app you’re in,” said Joey Flynn, product designer for Facebook.
Conversations, including Facebook chats and text messages, float on top of the other active apps. An open message is symbolized as a circle with a profile picture of the person in the conversation.
“And if I open an app, that message still follows me,” said Flynn. “You can just quickly pop into these conversations.”
Home will be a free download starting Apr. 12 and will run on many popular Android phones including Samsung’s Galaxy S3.
AT&T will be selling the new HTC First pre-loaded with the software and for $100.