For months there has been guesses that Facebook would release its very own mobile phone. At an event yesterday, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg put those rumors to rest and introduced the slightly “more than just an app” instead —Home. “Just building a phone isn’t enough for Facebook,” he commented, noting that it would only get into the hands of 10 million to 20 million people. The new apps launched called Facebook Home that is going to replace your standard Android’s home-screen with an immersible Facebook experience with full-screen photos, status updates, and notifications. Facebook also announced that a special version of Home will come to market which will be pre-installed on the new HTC First phone on AT&T. You can even convert your existing Android smartphone into a “Facebook Phone”, using the company’s new software. You can download it for your phone from 12 April. So here’s about the features of the new Facebook Home and how to grab it.
Watch the new Facebook Home promo
Features of the new Facebook Home
At the moment, Facebook Home isn’t a complete mobile version of Facebook or a rich general-purpose smartphone environment — it’s got only a few new features. It also doesn’t hold support for some otherwise standard Android features, such as Home-screen Widgets.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook plans to release meaningful and smart updates to Home every month. If the company follows through, the app will grow and gain popularity rapidly. A year from now, it might be quite different; at some point, it might not require the standard Facebook app anymore since it will be replaced by Facebook Home.
Home runs in the background downloading information from Facebook when you’re not using your phone. That’s the secret how it’s able to display photos and updates so quickly when you are using the app. This background downloads shortens the risk of killing your battery. Facebook commented that the new app adjusts the amount of stuff it downloads depending on whether you’re on a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, and cuts itself off if your battery runs dangerously low.
The new Facebook Home boils down to two main features, “Cover Feed and “Chat Heads.” Home also comes with a launch menu which is populated with a user’s favorite apps and basic Android apps. The key Facebook tools, such as photos, status updates and check-ins, are also embedded at the top of the launcher as buttons in the new Facebook Home app.
How to grab the new Facebook Home
Facebook has created the new Facebook Home Program to allow its Users to optimize the Home experience. The HTC First will naturally be compatible, but Facebook is planning extremely broad availability for its Facebook Home platform version. It will initially only be available for certain Android phones like the HTC One X, HTC One X+ and forthcoming HTC One, as well as Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II and the forthcoming Galaxy S 4. Partners will include AT&T, Orange, Qualcomm, HTC, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, EE, ZTE, Lenovo, and Alcatel.
HTC is launching a new phone, the HTC First, which comes optimized with the new Facebook Home. The phone will be sold for $99.99 at AT&T Inc. stores starting from April 12. It will run on an AT&T LTE connection. It is to be noted that the new Facebook Home is not available on iPhone. Tablet support for the new Facebook Home is still months away!
HTC First Specifications at a glance
How to use the new Facebook Home
- Firstly get the new Facebook Home compatible android phone (if you already have one, then relax!).
- Then download the Facebook Home launcher. Anyone with the most up-to-date versions of the Facebook or Facebook Messenger apps on a compatible Android phone will see a prompt to go to Google Play and download the new Facebook Home. From there you can download the Facebook Home client and then you have to choose whether you want to use it all the time, or just to complete Facebook-related actions with it. Select the default Facebook launcher to use the normal app, or Facebook Home to use the new-look system as per your wish.
- Now start browsing your cover feed. The most significant change the new Facebook Home brings to Android is its lock screen feature. Now when you wake your handset you will see a set of floating images and information from your Facebook News Feed. These can include anything like friends’ photos, Instagram pictures, status updates or link shares. The Cover Feed carousel will eventually tick over by itself, but you can swipe left and right to browse through it, as well as long press on any image to zoom out and see the complete photo.
- Next, you can start commenting. You can interact with Facebook directly from the Cover Feed without any need of opening the application. If you double tap an image for example, then you will “Like” it via Facebook. In the bottom left there is a comment box, tapping this will let you start typing on whatever your Cover Feed is showing, be it an image, status update or a link share.
- Another core functionality of the new Facebook Home is its notifications which have been given a rethink. Now, any notifications you receive will pop up on top of your Cover Feed to make you alert. You can customize notifications within Facebook itself, which will then in turn alter exactly what pops up are there above your Cover Feed.
- Facebook messages are also handled freshly in Home. Now whenever someone sends you a message, a small circular profile pic icon – the Chat Head – will come on the top left of your phone screen. When the message first comes in, a short preview will be shown to you over the phone. Group chats are also enabled here.
- The new Facebook Home also has a custom-made app drawer. From the Cover Feed home screen on dragging the circular icon of your profile picture will give you the option to open up the app drawer.
So, get up and start grabbing and enjoy the real Home experience brought to you by the new Facebook Home!