It’s not a phone, it’s not an operating system, it’s not forked Android and it’s not an isolated piece of hardware. The rumored “Facebook phone" is more like a layer (as illustrated above) that rests between the Android operating system and the other apps on your phone. It’s called “Home,” and it is meant, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during an announcement event Thursday, to flip the script on mobile devices, prioritizing people over apps. So, you launch the phone (perhaps an HTC First, which is the first phone to be released with “Home” pre-installed) and your friends’ Facebook posts and full-screen shared photographs pop up as they are sent.
Welcome to Facebook Home, where friends live at the heart of your phone. Come in. Take a look around. FacebookHome.com— Facebook (@facebook) April 4, 2013
“I think that this can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use these computing devices,” said Zuckerberg.
But will it?
The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama has all of the details about ”Home” and the potential implications. And, in case you missed the announcement, here’s the video:
Facebook has also released two promotional videos for “Home”. One is, let’s say, a bit quirkier than the other. Check out the live feed above at about 28 minutes in. This quirkier video shows a man on an airplane checking his phone. As he flips through Facebook “Home” the scenarios pictured come to life — everything from house cats to drag queens. The second video is a bit more generic, showing people as they use their phones while cooking, on the couch and in the park. The ad illustrates not only how “Home” could fit into one’s daily activities, but how smartphones have already so deeply embedded themselves into our lives — “Home” or no ”Home”.
How have people reacted? It depends on where you look. Let’s start with the market. According to Bloomberg news, the reaction, at least immediately after, was mostly positive, although a dip started to happen shortly thereafter:
Then there’s the question of whether Facebook is the social media platform users would most prefer to have integrated with a phone.For at least one Twitter user the answer was: not so much.
I am logging into Facebook less and less. Why would I want a Facebook phone? Maybe a Twitter phone....— Andrew Grinaker (@206andrew) April 4, 2013
Slate technology writer Farhad Manjoo drilled in on the all-but-certainty that a launcher like “Home” would never be featured on Apple’s mobile operating system:
”We have a great relationship with Apple.” But no, obviously, Facebook home will never be blessed by Apple. NOT IN A TRILLION YEARS— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) April 4, 2013
Then there’s the question of — even if Facebook is the platform of choice — whether the ways in which one interacts with friends on Facebook in its other incarnations will jibe with the presentation on “Home.”
If the homescreen of my phone had to be a facebook feed, the first thing I would do is to unfriend about 50% of the people on my facebook.— Bennett (@bfod) April 4, 2013
So far, our favorite reaction from the lighter side of the Twitterverse is from CNBC social media producer Eli Langer:
“Home” will be available on HTC First pre-installed on April 12, and is currently available for pre-order. Users of the Samsung Galasy S3 and Galaxy S4 (eventually, reports All Things D), HTC One and One X and the Galaxy Note 2 will be able to download ”Home” on April 12 as well.
Let us know, in the comments, whether you’ll be using “Home,” and if you think it will, in fact, change the way we approach our phones.
Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.
Read more news and ideas on Innovations: