Facebook and their own smartphone. Yes, there is yet another new story in the sea about that unusual pair, and this time we might not have to wait that long to find out whether the "real" device is coming from Facebook or not. Today (April 4th, 2013), Facebook has scheduled an event "come see our new home on Android." While it is fairly vague of an initiation (as ‘new home’ could be anything, ranging from a home screen to a real device), some details have emerged since the event got scheduled.
Worth having in mind is the fact that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the popular social network continuously denied that they were working on their own device as it "would not make much sense" for them to do, but that they are certainly working on improving the integration with the existing mobile platforms. Built-in sharing is part of many different platforms and solutions already, so what could Facebook present this Thursday – what could actually be the "new home on Android?" Starting this year, Facebook launched a free calling service for all users of the Facebook Messenger app in the US, so there is definitely a chance to expand in that segment on Android or push it even further.
Some rumors went on to say that there will be an actual device which will push and carry the new Facebook?s software – but most if not all features should be available for the rest of the smartphones on the Android platform soon after. This new home should be an entirely new home screen launcher, filled up with Facebook information user wants to see, according to some sources.
The Wall Street Journal claims that the social network has been working on a special piece of software for Android devices, which would enable the aforementioned home screen. What is not surprising is another piece of info WSJ managed to get, and that is the tight link between Facebook and HTC is still present. Both companies previously had some attempts (or should we say ? experiments) with making a Facebook oriented smartphone devices…
Those previous two phones which were "closely integrated" with Facebook were an utter market disaster back in 2011. Advertised as devices for "texting and Facebook integration," they disappeared quickly from the radar screen of those rare potential buyers. One smartphone had a physical keyboard, and the other one was touch-screen only. Accidental similarities to the ill-fated Microsoft Kin? We don’t think so.
Both were manufactured by HTC under names ChaCha and Salsa respectively. Devices had an average set of specifications (800MHz MSM7227 Turbo from Qualcomm, 512MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM), and were running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. What made them different from the rest of the HTC?s Android lineup was the little blue Facebook button nested in front, in order to make "sharing of status posts, images or videos easier."
Facebook, while having more than 650 million mobile users, should not underestimate those potential buyers again – and is therefore making the software available for all Android devices, if we are to believe some sources. Still, it seems there was at least one test HTC device for that particular piece of software Facebook is about to unveil on April 4th. While digging through the system dump of the "Facebook phone," folks at Android Police have revealed that it is a real deal ? although they could not manage to log on into the new software in order to see how it looks like in action, although some fragments have been extracted successfully.
Some of the features the Facebook Home software has is the ability to spawn windows that remain on top of all other windows, probably in order to make chatting more convenient, it has the permission to turn off the lock screen or activate as soon as the phone starts up, it is able to monitor the status of other applications on the phone, and so on…
Whether the device will see the light of the day or just remain as a prototype unit remains to be seen. Specs of that device codenamed HTC Myst are once again average, carrying a 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8960 from Qualcomm, paired with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of non-expandable storage. Myst is supposedly running the Android 4.1.2.