I still need the reassurance of a familiar brand before it's a real story - Tony Maddox, CNN senior VP
SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook surprised nobody today with the launch of its custom Android interface 'Home', apart from those expecting a Facebook phone.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled 'Home' at an event in California, describing the interface as a skin focused on people as opposed to applications.
"It's finally time to talk about that Facebook phone... or more accurately how you can turn any phone into a Facebook phone," Zuckerberg said.
"We think smartphones should be designed around people first, instead of apps. More and more we just want to know what's going on with people - and we want to bring this content to the front."
Zuckerberg wasn't kidding, either, as there's no escaping the social network with Facebook Home. Switch the device on and you're greeted with the latest status updates from your close friends and, knowing Facebook, old school aquaintances you probably don't care about.
Swiping through Home brings up endless images and status updates that you can Like by double-tapping, and you can comment back from Facebook's intrusive Home screen, too.
Facebook Home also brings with it the worst named feature in history - Chat Heads, which is a deeply integrated messaging service. Its name, although it is awful, does make sense, as when you receive a message from a friend, their face will pop up on your screen - no matter what application you might be in. Not a great feature for those with ugly friends.
Zuck said, "If a friend messages you, it will pop up. You just tap on your friend's face to carry on the conversation - it will be there in any app you're in."
While we're not sure anybody really wants all of these features, it sure is easy to get hold of the app. Facebook Home will work on any Android device with access to Facebook, and it can be downloaded almost instantaneously. At launch, it will be available on the HTC One and One X, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2.
In a bizarre twist, of sorts, Facebook also announced that Home will run on the HTC First - the first smartphone to come with the interface preloaded. This handset will be available through EE and Orange in the UK, and it will tip up later this month. Full specifications of the HTC First smartphone have yet to be unveiled, but we do know that it will be available in four different colours and will boast 4G LTE support.
Facebook Home is not available for tablets yet, but Facebook said that a larger screen version will be coming out soon. In fact, it will probably be coming very soon, as the firm promised to roll out updates to its Home skin for Android phones at least once a month. µ
Tags: Social Media
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ