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Facebook challenges Google with "Home" for phones

05 Apr 2013

Facebook has finally unveiled the Facebook Phone, but it isn't what the industry expected.

Showcasing "Home" software, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new way to integrate its network on Android users' smartphones.

Essentially driving the software to the front of the Android queue, the move will allow users to display mobile versions of news feeds and messages on home screens - potentially challenging a range of Google devices.

"You're going to be able to turn your Android phone into a great social device," Zuckerberg said.

"Our phones today are designed around apps, not people.

"We want to flip that around."

With company stock climbing 2% as a result, and Google's dropping 1.5%, the social media giant broke down the release, centered around turning your Android phone into a "great, living, social phone."

"We all want to share and connect," Facebook said. "That's how we discover new information and build meaningful relationships.

"But today, phones are built around tasks and apps. To see what's happening with your friends, you pull out your phone and navigate through a series of separate apps.

"We asked ourselves ­if sharing and connecting are what matter most, what would your phone be like if it put your friends first?

"Our answer is Home."

Not designed as either a phone or an operating system, Facebook says Home is more than just an app.

Cover feed

From the moment you wake up, Facebook says your phone will become immersed in cover feed, replacing the lock screen and home screen.

Labelled as "a window into what's happening", customers may have missed these updates previously, but the social networking site claims they are not a central part of the Home experience.

"Since Home is both your lock screen and home screen, the content comes right to you," Facebook said.

"You can flip through to see more stories, and double tap to like what you see.

"Cover feed is for those in-between moments ­like waiting in line at the grocery store or between classes ­when you want to see what's going on in your world."

Chat heads

With chat heads you can keep chatting with friends even when you're using other apps.

"When friends send you messages, a chat head appears with your friend's face, so you see exactly who you're chatting with," Facebook says.

"Messages reach you no matter what you're doing - whether you're checking email, browsing the web, or listening to music."


Users will now also receive notifications accompanied by a profile picture, with the option of either tapping the screen to open, or swiping them across to hide.


"It's as easy to get to your apps in Home as it is on any other phone," Facebook says. "Swipe up to see your favorite apps in the launcher.

"There's also a screen containing all of your apps, and you can drag your favorite apps to the launcher."

Available as a free download from the Google Play Store starting April 12, Home works on the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II.

Home will also work on the forthcoming HTC One and Samsung GALAXY S4, and on more devices in the coming months.

What do you think of Facebook Home? Is it a good idea? Will you be downloading it? Tell us your thoughts below