Facebook wants to take over the Android homescreen; more manufacturers incoming

March 29, 2013
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    facebook mark zuckerberg Credit: Kris Krug/Flickr

    Facebook wants to replace the conventional Android homescreen with its own application. HTC will deliver the first phone with the new app, but other manufacturers are in the pipeline.

    On Thursday, Facebook sent out invitations to an Android-centric event scheduled for April 4. Speculation has been simmering since then, with most reports suggesting that the fabled “Facebook phone” is a collaboration between the social networking giant and HTC. Supporting this theory is a recent FCC application for the HTC “Myst”, which has been long rumored to be the Facebook phone.

    The Wall Street Journal has chimed in with a report revealing a few interesting aspects. First, HTC will indeed deliver the first phone running a Facebook-focused version of Android, but Mark Zuckerberg’s company is negotiating with other manufacturers to bring the software to more devices. The revelation comes from people familiar with the matter, who added that the move is meant to increase the amount of time that people spend on the sprawling social network, or “putting Facebook first.”

    Rather than taking over the OS, as Amazon did on its Kindle tablets, Facebook appears to have created an app that plugs into Android, and replaces the conventional homescreen with content from the user’s social feed. Instead of having to click an icon to launch the Facebook app, the user will simply switch on the device and glance at the screen. To make this customization possible, the manufacturer has to make some modifications to the OS, but they wouldn’t be major, said the WSJ’s sources. Adding credence to the report is the tagline of the event announced yesterday – “Come see our new home on Android”. The “home” could refer to the homescreen.

    Such an approach would make more sense than the fork theory for one important reason. HTC is a member of the Open Handset Alliance, which brings together those interested in developing Android. To be a member of the organization (and to collaborate with Google), HTC has pledged not to fork Android or work with third parties that are forking Android. Google has flexed its muscles before when it comes to this issue, with the most public example being the Alibaba Android fork that Acer was forced to stop supporting. If Facebook was forking Android, HTC would jeopardize its relationship with Google for a very dubious benefit. Minor customizations, on the other hand, would let HTC work with Facebook without drawing Google’s ire.

    From my understanding, the app that Facebook is preparing could behave a lot like HTC’s own BlinkFeed feature. But instead of collecting news streams and social feeds like BlinkFeed does, the app would serve Facebook-centric information, like comments, wall posts, and messages.

    We’ll see the full shebang in less than a week. Stay tuned!

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    Comments

    • dogulas

      Ha, why can’t they just make a big fancy widget that covers the entire home screen if the user desires? I wonder if they’ve actually tested how much demand there is for this sort of thing. Do that many people really want a facebook phone?

      • Ned

        Yes. There are millions of people who believe their computer products are merely Facebook machines.

        • http://twitter.com/danmcsw danmcsw

          Well we can’t say we weren’t warned about this. Hollywood has spent billions of dollars and decades of time trying to prepare us for an impending zombie apocalypse.
          What a useful phone this will be, when the users eventually die of starvation, because they were too busy playing Farmville 17 to make dinner!

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          rrrrrrhhh….aaaaaaagh sent ggggrrrrpppphhuuummmppp a freshly chewed off ear.

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    • IncCo

      Sounds like a failbook Launcher.. ? Dont see any need for hardware modifications for that

    • http://twitter.com/LiiIiikEaBau5 LiiIiikEaBau5

      Why would i add Facebook on my screen?

    • Tanmay Jain

      Welcome to your home screen with silly food pics and stupid adverts.
      Just what the doctor ordered ;-)

    • fucck facebook

      stop holding us by the balls face book thats not cool i definitly dont want a huge widget with all the stupid shit displayed its so bad so troll my trolololito ball sac

      • Elias Ortega

        You don’t have to buy this phone you know that right?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1133270480 Stefan Andersen

      I’m just wondering.. Wouldn’t it be easier, just to make some sort of official Facebook-extension for Dashclock users?

    • http://twitter.com/BradleyMediaLLC Paul M. Bradley

      Facebook is so lame. I feel like it doesn’t realize how desperately people hate it. I would pay for a phone that could delete my Facebook account. You have to delete your pictures one-by-one to delete your account. I just don’t have the time or energy.

    • kroms

      L M F A O… only people with clueless minds would want this. Seriously ?
      Your going to buy a smartphone and market Facebook all the while FB makes millions for you ? LOL. How retarded have humans become.

    • terminator

      Dear Facebook,
      Please make a DECENT app for Android before you start yapping about taking over our beautiful homescreens and ruining things more than you already have.

    • http://twitter.com/bootsy1 Chris Boots

      yes and no one apart from dumb teenagers will actually buy it.

    • Marvin Nakajima

      Maybe it’s a new type of Live Wallpaper. :P

    • MoogleStiltzkin

      if i wanted facebook on my phone, i would install the friendcaster app, which is superior to the default facebook one.

      So zuck, gtfo my android unless i install it on my own initiative >->;

      not every1 wants facebook to dominate their phone ….

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