Today, after years of rumors, Facebook finally announced the real Facebook phone. Or rather, a way to turn any phone into the Facebook phone: Facebook Home. Set to release as an alternative Android launcher, Facebook Home transforms your phone into a social powerhouse, focusing on the people you talk and interact with, not so much how you do it.
The early leaks on Facebook Home have all been spot on. Initially only available on the HTC First (the first device to run Facebook Home stock out of the box), One, One X, Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, and Note II, Home comes in the form of a suite of apps, including the two flagship features of Home: cover feed and chat heads.
Cover feed is what replaces the home screen and lock screen of your Home enabled device. It’s a nearly blank canvas that features full-screen photos from your Facebook friends, chat heads and the occasional notification. Much of Home is gesture driven, with cover feed thriving on swipes and long-presses. Double tap on the current picture and you’ll instantly “like” it. Swipe to the left for another picture. Swipe up to see your favorite apps and over for the full drawer. In theory it looks very slick. But your average power user will probably go mad with such a limited arrangement.
Chat heads are the second flagship feature of Facebook Home. Chat heads, which look incredibly similar to Google+ circles, are small round moveable icons of your friends’ faces that can be used to activate a floating chat window in whatever app you’re already using. If you’re checking your email, and a chat head from your pal Mark pops up, you can use it to respond without having to leave your email. Chat heads combine Facebook messages with SMS, so if you stick to those two, you’ll never need to open a messaging app again.
According to the Facebook news release, Home will be available for the limited devices mentioned above April 12, with support for more devices and tablets added “in the coming months.” What do you think of Facebook Home?