Last week, the Facebook crew rounded up everyone to unveil what they hailed as their “new home on Android.” Initially, people were led to believe that Team Zuckerberg was about to launch the alleged Facebook Phone. However, instead of announcing their own smartphone, the team revealed Facebook Home.
Facebook Home is a new home screen and app launcher interface for Android smartphones. It will be available on April 12 on Google Play, and will work on the HTC One, the HTC One X, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Samsung Galaxy S 4.
Together with Facebook Home, the company also launched the HTC First. It is the first smartphone to have Facebook Home built into it and is exclusive to AT&T users in the US.
Here are the key features of Facebook Home:
When you switch on your phone, your lock screen and home screen are replaced by the Cover Feed—a stream containing the status updates, photos and links posted by your friends. By side-scrolling, you’ll be able to flip through the stream, and you can also like content simply by double-tapping the screen.
Each time there’s something going on in your Facebook account, notifications will appear on the home screen. You can view these updates by clicking on the notifications. You can also move them to any part of the screen or you can flick them away from the view if you’re not really in the mood to check them out. On the HTC First, all notifications for apps on the home screen will go through Facebook Home, while for other Android users who simply download the app on their devices will only receive notifications from Facebook.
At the bottom of the lock/home screen of your phone (the Cover Feed), you’ll see a circular avatar with your profile photo on it. You can swipe it upward to reveal the app launcher, which gives you easy access to all your apps and lets you group together the ones you frequently use.
When someone sends you a message via SMS or via Facebook Messenger, an avatar with the user’s profile photo will appear onscreen, no matter what app you’re in. You can respond to the message by tapping on the avatar. Users will be able to answer messages directly without leaving the app that’s currently running. You can also move the avatars around the screen or flick them away.