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Facebook has sent out invites to the media for an event to be held at the company’s headquarters in California on Thursday, an event where the social networking giant will show off its “New Home on Android.” Predictably, this has sparked a new wave of rumours about the much speculated Facebook Phone, a phone that will put Facebook features like Timeline, News Feed and Friends at the front and center of the phone.
According to sources who spoke to Tech Crunch, Facebook is all set to unveil a customized version of Android that will display a user’s Facebook News Feed right up front on the homescreen, running on HTC hardware. The ‘Facebook Home’ is also expected to include a much deeper integration of Facebook services within the OS, including easy access to Facebook Messenger, Friends and Events.
If you’ve followed mobile phone launches for a couple of years now, you’ll remember that the HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa were both Android smartphones with a big penchant for most things Facebook. Apart from common integration features that we’ve seen on smartphones, both HTC devices also boasted of a dedicated hardware button that could be used to quickly share items and publish new posts on Facebook. It’s still not clear how different the new Facebook phone will be from its predecessors (or even if it exists), but it does seem likely that Facebook will want to focus primarily on the software that it will show off on Thursday’s event, rather than the hardware.Do We Need a Facebook Phone?
While a phone with deeper Facebook integration seems like a good idea, we’re still not sold on the idea of a phone whose primary selling point is its ‘Facebook-ness.’ In fact, if you’re a heavy Facebook user, chances are, you are already using the social network very effectively on your smartphone. Most smartphones already allow users to import their Facebook Friends list, and apps like Facebook Messenger are also quite popular on existing mobile platforms. Facebook will have to usher in something entirely different (and brilliant) to make users want a phone whose world revolves around all things Facebook.
However, there are still certain features that could get a serious bump because of a proper Facebook-Android OS. Facebook Mail is a feature that’s criminally underused considering the fact that it actually puts faces to email addresses and could be well served by a smart mobile environment. Facebook Events is another feature that can be really well implemented on a smartphone and would be valuable to users.
On Thursday, we’ll probably get to see what Facebook’s vision of a social smartphone actually looks like and whether it’s an idea to be liked or poked out of existence.
Source: Tech Crunch