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Facebook Home: a New Android Launcher from Facebook coming April 12

Facebook Home announced!
Facebook Home announced!
For the last few months there have been rumors that Facebook has been developing a smartphone. Facebook did make a few announcements related to smartphones in a recent event but they didn’t announce a new Facebook branded smartphone… they introduced a new social Android launcher called “Facebook Home”.

What’s an Android Launcher?

Before we get into the features of Facebook Home, let’s quickly discuss what Android launchers are, especially for the benefit of our non-Android readers. Launchers are basically apps that you can download on Google Play (Android app store) which changes the user interface of your phone. It changes the look, feel, and sometimes even the functionality of the device. Instead of creating a single Facebook smartphone, Facebook shipped a software update that can “transform” your Android phone into a “Facebook phone”. Cool eh?

To understand the philosophy of Facebook Home, watch this short promotional video. It also gives a glimpse of the major features of the launcher.

What are the features of Facebook Home?

Facebook Home has thee major features: Cover Feed, Notifications, and Chat Head.

Cover Feed is essentially your new home screen. There are no app shortcuts or widgets. Instead you have your Facebook News Feed in the form of some text and a giant photo on the phone. Double tapping it lets you “Like” the update of your friend. To view the next status just swipe sideways. Here’s the official video explaining how the feature works.

To understand the philosophy of Facebook Home, watch this short promotional video. It also gives a glimpse of the major features of the launcher.

Next we have Notifications. Instead of the bar that appears at the top (how Android and iOS do it) what you get are strips on the center of your Cover Feed. Here’s the official video explaining how it works:

Lastly we have Chat Head. It’s basically a unified messaging service. Again, here’s the video:

What Android Devices can Run Facebook Home?

Facebook Home can be downloaded on the Google Play store starting April 12. However only a few devices will be able to run it first. Here’s the list:

Walang Sony Xperia Z!
Walang Sony Xperia Z!

Too bad for those who were left out, lol. Hopefully Facebook Home will be available to all Android devices soon (says the Xperia Z owner).

HTC First, the first Smartphone Pre-installed with Facebook Home, Announced

Comes in different colors, lol.
Comes in different colors, lol.

The event of Facebook also featured one hardware announcement. Taiwan-based HTC revealed that they’re going to ship the first smartphone pre-installed with Facebook Home and they’re calling in HTC First. No details yet on the specifications or pricing but it looks like an upgraded version of the HTC One.

Initial Impressions: Promising but dangerously gimmicky

Obviously we can’t give a fair assessment on how good it is since we haven’t tried it ourselves. It looks like Facebook Home has a lot of potential but it also borders on being gimmicky… you know the app you use once just for kicks and then you never open it again? The only review that will truly matter is when we get our hands on a device with Facebook Home and spend a few days with it.

Anyway, that’s it for Facebook Home! We’ll make sure to cover this story in the next two weeks.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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