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Facebook Home: A New, Deep Integration With Android

By John Divine - Apr 5, 2013 at 8:55AM

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Not quite a "Facebook phone," but the product potentially makes the social media giant an integral part of future mobile devices.

Facebook (FB 0.65%) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday introduced the company's newest iteration, Facebook Home, to the world. Designed for users to "see the world through people, not apps," Facebook Home isn't an operating system, nor is it a conventional application. Available for download on certain Android-powered devices through the Google (GOOGL -0.29%) Play store beginning April 12, the new product aims to make the mobile experience more fundamentally social.

Facebook Home turns the home screen into a continuous stream of your friends' photos, updates, and shared stories. Dubbed the cover feed, Zuckerberg demonstrated how easy it is to interact with these scrolling stories by simply double tapping to "like" a story or swiping to move to the next one.

But Facebook Home also attempts to revolutionize mobile messaging, blurring the lines between SMS and Facebook messages. One feature, called Chat Heads, allows users to easily message friends (whose tiny, circular facial profiles appear on the screen) while other applications are running.

The unabashedly ambitious Zuckerberg isn't just content with introducing a drastically new way to access social media. Five to 10 years from now, not only does he envision about 5 billion people having smartphones, but he believes the majority of those people "will have never seen in their lives what you and I call a computer." He went on: "The very definition of what a computer is and what our relationship with it should be hasn't been defined for the majority of the world." The 28-year-old billionaire closed by saying that when that relationship is finally defined, it will center around the "people first" philosophy championed by Facebook Home.

Not only will Facebook Home be available on a number of HTC and Samsung devices on April 12, but HTC will be releasing the HTC First the same day, the first phone that comes with Facebook Home built in. Retailing for $99.99, it will only be available through AT&T (T -0.12%).

In less than an hour, Facebook's stock went from gains of around 1% at the beginning of the event to roughly 3% gains as investors applauded the upcoming launch. 

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