On Thursday, Facebook announced a new piece of software called “Facebook Home” that customizes the Android interface and integrates the social network into other smartphone features. Many observers had speculated that Facebook might be planning to announce its own phone at the event, but some say this new software has the potential to be even more disruptive.
CNET’s Shara Tibken reported, “Facebook today unveiled a new downloadable user interface that takes over your smartphone’s home screen, lock screen, and wallpaper. Instead of the regular Android features, you’re treated to a slideshow of updates, photos, and shared links.”
Jessica Guynn and Andrea Chang with the Los Angeles Times added, “For years it was rumored that Facebook — spurred by a firestorm of doubt about its ability to make the business leap to mobile devices — would design and manufacture its own phone. In fact, it has done something far more audacious: Quite literally, Facebook is going to try to turn every Android phone and tablet on the planet into a Facebook device. ‘We are not building a phone, and we are not building an operating system,’ Zuckerberg said at a packed event at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. ‘But we’re also building something a whole lot deeper than just an ordinary app.'”
According to Somini Sengupta with The New York Times, “Facebook Home will be available for download from Google’s app store, Play, on April 12 for four popular, moderately priced phones that use Android and are made by HTC and Samsung. A fifth one, a new model called the HTC First, will be sold by AT&T for $100 with the software already loaded.”
Wired’s Mat Honan commented, “It’s something more than an application, and slightly less than an operating system. As Wired.com editor Mark McClusky described it, Facebook Home is an ‘apperating system.’ The genius of the Facebook phone is that the company made a phone without making a phone at all. It’s not overly ambitious. It’s not a big bet. And that’s why it may have such a huge payoff.”