The analysis of an allegedly leaked ROM of the upcoming “Facebook phone” shows that the social networking giant will release a launcher, rather than a modified version of Android.
With Facebook’s April 4 event around the corner, speculation about what exactly we’ll see at the Android-centric announcement is intensifying. Now, thanks to some sleuthing from the folks at Android Police, we think we know a little more about the social networking giant’s plans for the long-rumored “Facebook phone”.
AP got their hands on an allegedly leaked ROM (the system image) of the HTC Myst, which has long been rumored to be collaboration between HTC and Facebook. The ROM contains a Facebook-made application, called Facebook Home, that will supposedly run on top of HTC’s own Sense 4 overlay, and replace the homescreen of the device. In other words, Facebook is preparing a launcher, similar to existing apps in the Play Store, such as Apex Launcher or Nova Launcher.
As a WSJ report from last week suggested, Facebook won’t release a customized version of Android (as many earlier rumors claimed). Rather than forking Android, Mark Zuckerberg’s company is simply releasing a launcher that will run on top of regular Android, just like any other app. Moreover, the newspaper said that HTC won’t be the sole manufacturer to deliver a phone running Facebook’s launcher by default, and the code that Android Police pored over contains some clues that corroborate with WSJ’s report. Specifically, the code of the Facebook launcher includes references to Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlay, which runs on devices like the Galaxy S4 and the Note 2.
Because firing up the Facebook Home app on the HTC Myst ROM required a login, it was not possible to test the features of the application. However, the leak does provide us some information on the specifications of the Myst. To the dismay of specs junkies, the device shapes up to be decidedly mid-range phone, with a dual-core Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 720p 4.3-inch display. In theory, the specs could belong to a prototype or a different device, so we’ll have to wait for the official announcement.
Facebook appears to be playing it safe with its Android Home project, choosing to simply offer an extension of its existing apps. Earlier reports say the launcher will display content from the users’ social contacts, such as wall posts and messages. Looking at the cutthroat competition in the mobile OS market, keeping it safe seems to be a wise move. We’ll learn more on Thursday.