Facebook has announced the latest iteration of the service for Android smartphones. Dubbed Facebook Home, it is a replacement for the Android UI and puts more emphasis on people rather than apps. It will be available on only flagship devices at first—HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II—and will be on Google Play from April 12. The tablet version of Facebook Home is still under development and will take some time to be launched.
On unlocking your device, you will be greeted by the cover feed that replaces the lock screen and home screen. It basically shows you your Facebook news feed and lets you comment on, or like posts right from there. You can swipe sideways to look at other stories in your feed.
Facebook Home is a complete overhaul of the Android UI
Another major feature of Facebook Home are chat heads. These are tiny circles that let you access a chat from anywhere. You can pin people on your screen and chat with them whenever you want. It can be accessed from different apps, or even games. You can even move chat heads around and respond to messages. And since SMS is integrated into Facebook Messenger for Android, chat heads include Facebook messages as well as texts.
You’ll get notifications straight to your home screen, like when a friend posts on your timeline. You can just tap on the notification to check it out, and swipe them away to hide them.
Don’t worry though, your apps aren’t going anywhere. To access your apps, you can just swipe up from the cover feed where you will be greeted by an internal home screen of sorts. Here, you can set up shortcuts to any app you want. To access the full list of apps that you have installed, you can swipe to the right.
Alongside Facebook Home, HTC took to the stage to unveil the HTC First. The First will be the first (no pun intended) smartphone that will have Facebook Home running out of the box as its primary home screen. The smartphone goes on sale in the US on April 12—the same day as the launch of Facebook Home. HTC hasn’t announced any plans to launch the phones in other countries yet, but we will probably get more information as the launch gets closer.
The HTC First will be the first phone to run Facebook Home out of the box
For other smartphone makers interested in releasing phones with Facebook Home pre-installed, Facebook has announced the Facebook Home Program that will allow developers to integrate the service deep into the device.
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