Rumours have been circulating that Facebook would be launching a new phone in the near future, and while that day is here, it’s not a phone the Australians will get to see, but rather a new look for Android phones.
Announced today as “Facebook Home,” the product is a homescreen replacement tool, integrating the best of Facebook in a way that makes it easy to use from the lock screen, and if you’re a Facebook addict – and there are plenty of those out there – with an Android phone, this might make a lot of sense.
Compatible with four already available smartphones in Australia, with two more coming later this month, Facebook Home acts as an addition to Android and replaces the homescreen, so if you use HTC’s Sense or the stock Touchwiz layout provided by Samsung, this replaces it and allows you to be all Facebook-y from the get-go.
This includes the lock screen, which replaces it with a cover feed from Facebook, and similar to the web service, will show you what’s happening in your world. Your updates are shown in a way more customised to your phone, and given the integrated nature of Facebook Home, it’s likely to be designed with a lot of images and multimedia.
Messaging and chat is part of the homescreen replacement experience, and Facebook is apparently building in SMS support too, meaning you can take part in conversations with Facebook friends while also sending regular phone-based text messages to friends.
As a home screen replacement and not an Android replacement, Facebook Home will still work with other apps, such as Instagram, Gmail, Pandora, and pretty much anything else you have, and features an application menu, as well as notifications for these apps on your cover feed.
Facebook’s Home is coming next Friday (April 12) on the Google Play Store for free, and will be compatible with the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, with compatibility extended to future releases such as the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.
In America, the software is being released pre-installed to a mid-range phone called the HTC First, but in Australia, the future of that handset is unlikely, with an HTC representative today telling GadgetGuy that they “couldn’t comment on this phone at the this time.”
Still, it’s worth noting that this is just another home screen replacement, and as such, you don’t really need specific hardware to run it or make it better. While Facebook has a list of specific devices this runs on, it’s likely this will expand to include more devices in the near future, and if you own an Android phone already, this could include that soon enough.