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Facebook considered building an operating system for Facebook Home, but wanted greater reach

Darren Murph
04.16.13
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"The [story behind the history of Home] was about making an experience that flows through friends and people. We saw three ways that we could do this. One, we could go and build an operating system. Second, we could dig into Android deeply in order to see how we could we fundamentally change / fork Android to make it different. Or, we could build an app to make it different." Those were the words just spoken by Cory Ondrejka -- the director of mobile engineering at Facebook -- here at D: Dive Into Mobile in NYC. This, in fact, confirms that Facebook not only gave thought to actually crafting its own operating system in order to usher Facebook Home into the world, but moved forward with prototypes.

Host Kara Swisher asked the duo how far along things actually got, to which Ondrejka replied: "The OS path was the least fleshed-out of the paths. Mark [Zuckerberg] talked on launch day that he wanted to build something for everyone. It's hard to get to the type of scale that's necessary for us [when building an OS]. We wanted Home in front of hundreds of millions of people -- even a successful OS would only give that experience to a few of them."

The two continued to talk about Facebook's internal shift into mobile. At this point, the company has broken down most every wall between desktop and mobile, and Home is the first major product to ship under this new scenario. "You can see the engines throttling up," Schroepfer said, speaking of how fast updates will soon be coming to iOS, Android and beyond. In fact, he confirmed that the first major update to Home was coming "during the second week of May," while international users will start to get Home access on select Android phones today. And, while Facebookers have been testing Home on tablets, it wants to truly nail the experience on phones first before pushing it elsewhere.

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