Facebook has announced, as expected, a suite of apps and Android launcher called Home. Its main tenet is called CoverFeed that uses photos to connect people, apps and data in a single place. According to Facebook, the app is used three times more than any other Android app on average; users are inside the app for an average of 30 minutes per day.
Unlike previous rumours, Facebook will not be releasing its own phone, nor will it be “forking” Android to its own version. Instead, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook wanted to use Android’s inherent openness and flexibility to its advantage. Home sits atop your current Android operating system, regardless of manufacturer or version.
Home is also a suite of apps, combining the launcher, the Facebook app itself and Messenger, which now combines SMS and private messages into one app. There’s a “clean, simple” app launcher, so your previous workflow is still available. Facebook doesn’t want to prevent you from using apps, but its people-first integration is paramount.
One of the major tenets of Home is something called Chat Heads, which actually display your Facebook friends’ heads on top of any app you’re using.
Home will be available to existing Facebook users who have the latest version of Facebook and Messenger. You’ll be prompted to download it in the coming days. Home will be available as a launcher replacement, which can be deleted and replaced with your favourite launcher going forward.
It will also be available for tablets in the coming months; the initial version will be offered only on phones. The initial rollout will be limited to the HTC One, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S4, HTC One X and One X+.
The app will eventually expand to work with a number of new devices, but it’s going to be Android 4.0+, which will help long-term performance.