After a series of speculations among industry watchers and consumers alike, we finally have a glimpse of what rumors formerly called a ‘Facebook phone’. We now know that it is actually a ‘Facebook Home’, the social networking giant’s app and UI for Android, to debut on HTC First handsets. As a downloadable user interface, Facebook Home will seamlessly take over your handset’s homescreen, lockscreen, and wallpaper.
What you will see on your smartphone’s screen are continuous streams of photos, updates, and all sorts of shares from your Facebook friends instead of the regular Android apps and features of your Android phone. Your traditional homescreen now becomes the “Cover Feed”, featuring full-screen background image overlaying icons, text, notifications and messages on top.
As a social networking site that it is, messaging is still the central feature of Facebook Home, and is featured in the interface as Chat Heads, which are circular icons of your friends’ profile pictures floating above your screen’s Cover Feed image. To engage in a conversation, you just have to tap these Chat Heads, and simply tap a second time to have them closed. You can either watch photos as they auto scroll, or you may choose to flick in advance to get the latest of what’s happening to your pals. Calls, e-mails, text messages, and all other third party apps will of course still surface out of Facebook Home since you are essentially still using an Android phone.
Simply put, Home is a an app and UI linked together to deliver a novel smartphone experience as much as it takes more control both of it’ user base. Some observers see that it even has the capability of superseding Android. With Home running on Android, Facebook can get the UI into more and more devices without worrying about any limitations . That said, Home users could potentially be stuck within the perimeters of this new socially focused UI, with the consequent effect that users gets to be less and less reliant on Google-built core features.
Even as Google’s apparent focus is the dominance of their search in devices, it should be noted that the introduction of Home basically has the potential to do away with that search altogether. For its part, Facebook itself has its own graph search. While Google itself is currently in the neutral regarding Facebook Home and how it (apparently) is taking control of Android user’s experience away from Google, some observers are beginning to take cue and are closely watching how Facebook will make full use of Android’s openness and how Google will respond.