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April 4th 2013 2:37 pm

Facebook goes big with Home and the HTC First

While it's not a true Facebook phone, HTC and Facebook have partnered together to release the HTC First which is a dual-core phone that is designed around Facebook's new Home software. Straight from the HTC press release, here is what the First and Home have to offer:
  • Cover feed: A constant, fresh stream of photos and updates from your newsfeed, cover feed is always present when you wake up your phone. It lets you stay up-to-date on your friends’ latest activities in real-time, all the time. You can swipe through to see more photos and updates, double tap to “like” a post and comment right from cover feed. To learn more about cover feed, check out this video.
  • Notifications: Notifications from apps and friends appear right on your home screen. It’s easier to see when you have a missed call, calendar reminder or new message. Open a notification with a double tap or clear them away to see your Cover Feed. To learn more about notifications, check out this video.
  • Chat Heads: The mobile messenger lets you jump in and out of conversations while you do other things, like watch a video and browse the web. Reply right from chat heads, or move them around if you're not ready to respond. Plus you can send and receive texts and Facebook messages from the same spot. To learn more about chat heads, check out this video.
  • App Launcher: See your favorite apps and post right to Facebook from the same spot. You choose what’s on your app launcher—press and hold an app then drag it anywhere.
  • Instagram: HTC First is the only phone that comes with Instagram pre-loaded.
The First is going to cost $99 on April 12th but Home isn't exclusive to the First as it will be available on the Play Store for select devices (Galaxy S3, Note II, One X and One X+, while it will work on the One and S4 when they release). Facebook didn't give any official word when or if it will ever come to iOS.

As Facebook says right in their own press release "Download Home ­and put your friends front and center on your phone", which means Home can provide heavy Facebook users with a more seamless way to stay connected with friends and family.

Facebook has long be criticized for their lack of understanding when it comes to mobile but this is a bold move forward in attempting to embrace it more.

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9 replies

From my experience (and I think many others' as well) the Android facebook app has always been worse than the iOS version. It has made many improvements in the recent past though.

So I think I recall facebook saying they would be focusing on the android experience to make it much smoother and better. I didn't realize making it better necessitated an entirely new launcher.

However, I think I'll try facebook home out whenever it becomes compatible with my Nexus 4, unless the privacy aspect seems bad. I assume this launcher is going to need a heck of a lot of permissions on the device (access to phone calls/sms, maybe even email) and I am not sure I am willing to hand that over as easily
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Pretty much any launcher comes with a very long list of permissions. It makes sense though considering what a launcher does. :P
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Unfortunately, in their case, Facebook will use the information in ways that you DON'T authorize or approve.
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This seems like step one in testing out the waters to eventually develop their own OS. They are trying way to hard to show that it is "not" a fork or an Android based OS... but they said there would not be a facebook phone either. Right, so explain the logo on the back of the HTC First. My first suspicions arise from the fact that only certain phones will be able to use the Home launcher. True to Android any launcher should be able to be downloaded on any device. (Slight exceptions would be phone only or tablet only version, or only available for devices running current OS versions). A second point of concern is the fact that the pre-baked-in version of Home will not be the same as the downloaded version. What? I'm sure facebook users will love to have full screen ads all over their lock screens in addition to their friends important updates. This might be a great Phone/launcher for some people who are heavily invested in the FB ecosystem. To some people getting on Facebook is synonymous to being on the Internet. Same as back in the dial-up days, getting on AOL equated being on the Internet. Most just lived inside that somewhat walled garden with no care for the reality of what connecting to the Internet meant. And they were happy. Blue or Red pill... you choose.
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I would assume that they would launch Facebook Home on other devices in the future. The people who are heavily invested in Facebook are most likely not the people who are buying the top tier smart phones, especially since the First is a mid range device spec wise. I would assume that would be their target market with the Home launcher.

I saw that Facebook Home was a sponsor of the Final four yesterday and I think that is why they did their announcement last week, so they could sponsor the event.
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I think this is a very interesting step. It looks to be implemented much better than I would have ever imagined. It looks like it could be very fun and addicting at first. I think I'll give it a shot when I get my HTC One. Doubt I'll keep it, but it's worth a shot. It does look pretty. :) I just hope it's as smooth as it is in the videos they've posted.
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I think this is a great first step for Facebook to get better at mobile. The Android app is slow. The Kindle Fire app is slow. I've never used the iOS app. I myself wouldn't want this launcher but I know there are a good portion of Facebook's 1 billion users who would use Home.
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Interested to install this on my Nexus 7 and try it out.
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I'm not a fan of Facebook. I didn't like how their older Android software siphoned off a copy of my addressbook and personal data, then used it to try to connect me to people that I didn't choose to tell about my Facebook account.

It's old news that they don't respect privacy, and never will. And their "radical anti-privacy" agenda always trumps any worries they might have about causing YOU trouble by telling your secrets indiscriminately.

So I don't use Facebook often, and when I did, I would NEVER use the native Android software.

It's a bit troubling that device makers want to "bake in" the Facebook "Home" launcher. They are making the assumption that ALL their customers want to surrender their secrets to these untrustworthy pirates, and it's just not so. In fact, if everyone knew just what information Facebook takes from your phone, then I think that most people would NOT want to allow their apps to run on their phones.

I just hope that device makers don't throw us under the bus and taint all their devices with a Facebook "virus". Up until now, it's been easy enough to avoid. If they become the de facto launcher, then there will be no escaping them.
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