Mark Zuckerberg unveils "Home," a new Android skin


Facebook's Home for Android makes heavy use of user photos.

Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new piece of software called "Home" at a press event in San Francisco. Zuckerberg stated that Facebook wanted as many people as possible to be able to use the new software, which means that it is based on Android and is essentially a skin. "You don't need to fork Android to do this. You don't even need to modify the operating system," said Zuckerberg. The new software puts "people first," and shows a variety of information about your friends when you switch on the phone. 

The software, which is a "family of apps," can be installed on any Android phone and acts like a skin, hiding the current version of Android with new features, like "CoverFeed". According to Zuckerberg, Facebook is trying to combat the app-centric world and turn it into a people-centric world. "Since home is the lockscreen, in addition to the lockscreen, you don't need to do any more swipes to see content," said Zuckerberg. The system looks a lot like Flipboard, which offers personalised news based on things you have followed. 

While the phone is very people-centric, apps are still present. The UI looks very much like Windows Phone or WebOS, with an app drawer which can be "swiped" up or down from the homescreen, depending on when the user needs it. Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is looking to improve messaging, by creating an omni-present message drawer. The messages are always on the screen (if you have an open conversation), and are called "Chat heads." These include a small icon with the person's head which can be dragged around the screen. Chat Heads are compatible with both SMS and Facebook Messenger. 

When the phone is unlocked, the user experiences "CoverFeed," a service which shows what your friends have been up to in a big, full-screen picture. As we speculated in yesterday's leaks, the new skin puts big photos first. Everything is fullscreen and incredibly visual, just like Windows Phone or iOS. When you delve deeper, the experience is core Android. Facebook have only created a new homescreen, lockscreen and messaging application. 

To get "Home," simply update your version of Facebook and visit the app. From there, you are taken to Google Play and will have the option to download "Home." You can then choose to have "Home" on your device all the time, or as a trial. 

Facebook "Home" is certainly good for heavy Facebook users who currently have an Android phone and want to see what their friends are doing from anywhere in the phone.

HTC will also be offering the HTC First, which will arrive on April 12th for $99.99. The First will natively include Facebook Home, will support LTE and will come in four colours: red, light blue, white, and black. The First will be available on AT&T's network, with the AT&T CEO saying the First offers the "most immersive engagement I've ever seen."

In addition to HTC, Samsung and Sony have also signed up to be Facebook Home partners, which mean that the Home Android skin will be preloaded onto the device. Whether Sony or Samsung will follow HTC's lead and release dedicated phones is still unclear. The Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, and Galaxy S4 will all support Facebook Home on April 12th. 

Watch the event live right now. The event is now over, but there is more information on Facebook's website

Source: Facebook

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft offers Windows 8 workaround for Google Calendar events

Next Story

HTC First announced, a Facebook Home-based smartphone

52 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Everything looked good but the photo aspect. BLAH! I could give a **** about the low quality images my friends are sharing on facebook.

If anything this proves how badly MSFT has failed at communicating the power of Windows Phone. Facebook will now run with it and people will think/believe they came up with the ideas behind it..

It also has to do with the press. A lot of journalists use Mac and think of themselves as tech savvy when they're not. A lot of them think that Apple and Google has already inherited the Earth, so why even direct their mental radar at what happens in the MS camp? Sad, but true.

Even if MS does the most awesome stuff, you wont' see an article about it - but if Apple or Google does a slight UI change, it's like the sky has fallen. Also - while they wait for the next from Apple, they find old stuff about Apple to write about to pass time. It's like they're preaching the gospel of some sort.

Yes, I agree - except in the case of the Facebook Home, it's either ppl. and messaging, or apps (the app launcher). In case of Windows Phone, it's balanced to how you like it. More ppl on your start screen? - more apps? - something in between? It's up to you. It's more flexible in WP imo.

It's great for people that use Facebook a lot. I'm not one of those people so I'd find it somewhat annoying if I'm interrupted with a pop-up notification of a message or comment. I prefer the "use it when you need it" approach. Sometimes, I'll stay logged into Skype or Twitter because I'm expecting messages. Other times, I'll log out or close an app entirely because I don't want it to run in the background (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Skype).

"put people first" oh he DID NOT just steal that!

well good for him actually. FB is so dominant that google must be looking at this and fleeing in terror.

neonspark said,
"put people first" oh he DID NOT just steal that!

well good for him actually. FB is so dominant that google must be looking at this and fleeing in terror.

Sarcasm?

The app launched is opened in the same way as WebOS and the scrolling interface and "People" hubs are very Windows Phone. You're right, though, it does look a lot like Path.

Hate/love facebook/zuckerburg...at least they are showing the RIGHT way to do skins. Where-as samsung, htc, and motorola (before google) all forked android to do their skins, Facebook created (or stole, whatever you think) a skin that sits on top of ANY android version, which is the BEST way to make a skin

So Facebook took what somebody else did and called it their own? Sounds familiar if you believe the Winklevoss twins. Then again, Steve Jobs proved that behavior to be a very successful business model decades ago.

erikpienk said,
So happy i have Windows Phone, dont need crap like Skins

Personal preference. If I didnt like changing my phone as often as I do, then I would probably go with a WP device. To each their own.

TheLegendOfMart said,
Don't like it, install another one, can you do that on Windows Phone.......nope.

Ah skins, brings back memories of Winamp!

laserfloyd said,

Ah skins, brings back memories of Winamp!

Only there weren't much good skins during those days, apart from the MMD3 (or something like that)

Since facebook and instagram is what millions of consumers do with their phones, this is a meaningful thing for the Android platform. I wish MS would just pay facebook and get the first-party app already.

Why does MS need too? isn't Facebook integrated into the people hub in WP8? I always assumed a Facebook app on that platform was redundant.

Technically it would be for basics. But people like facebook apps. At least on iOS and Android. They like timeline view, having all things facebook in a fast app (few actually use the web on the phone). All the features and functions and instagram, etc. etc.

facebook is what it is. There's nothing else like it. The number of apps that share on facebook is growing, even Netflix now hooks into it in the US.

I agree MS had the people-centered idea for their contacts tile (that's really all it is) first, but the people hub is simply not going to be in the same league as facebook. Just as no other social network has been, I suppose unless you count twitter.

It could only help the WP8 platform to get a first-party facebook and instagram app. I would genuinely like to know why that isn't happening. I'm sure it's an interesting story

M_Lyons10 said,

Exactly. Facebook hasn't had an original idea since they dropped the "The"...


Timeline, Graph Search, Open Graph and everything to do with it, Pages, Groups and how they work (including Groups for Pages which is currently being tested) are all just some of the original ideas and innovations that have come out of the Facebook camp since that time.

I'm more concerned about the permissions that it'll be granted. Moreover Facebook has a bad reputation of producing horrible mobile apps, the official app for Android is just terribly unoptimized although its a native app.

maxslaterrobins said,
Actually, the software looked very nice from the demo. Lots of fullscreen pictures.

Though a double-edged sword for someone who has a monthly quota of 400MB like me

:: Lyon :: said,

Though a double-edged sword for someone who has a monthly quota of 400MB like me

How do you not exceed that? I just exceeded over 500MB in a week and a half.

meh, may check out Home but wont really use it. I dont use their messaging app either. But I dont spend a lot of time on FB either.

The new software puts "people first," and shows a variety of information about your friends when you switch on the phone.
Gee, I wonder where they got that idea... they even ripped off the tag line...