So, today was Facebook Phone Day. Or, more accurately: Facebook Skin For Android Day.
"Today's phones are designed around apps, not people," Zuckerberg told the audience. "We're not building a phone, and we're not building an operating system, but we're building something a whole lot deeper than any other app."
Specifically, it's an Android homescreen replacement called "Home."
Zuckerberg calls it "the soul of your phone." If you've ever used an alternative Android launcher like ADW (or HTC's Sense), well, this is like a Facebook-centric version of those.
It's the first thing you see when you pick up your phone, in other words.
Here's how it claims to be different: Notifications are based around people (friends in your Facebook feed), not apps.
The design is centered around "Coverfeed," where full-screen photos from your News Feed, status updates and notifications, flow by like almost like a screensaver.
See, notifications are attached to "people" now:
And if you want to get to the rest of your apps, you "press down on your face," as Facebook describes it. This opens up a normal app launcher:
Then there's "Chat Heads," Facebook's messaging system. That's right, "Chat Heads." Say it one more time: "Chat Heads."
With "Chat Heads" you can message your friends through Facebook messenger or SMS without leaving your current app. It pops up over whatever you're doing, and those FLOATING HEADS stick around as long as the conversation goes on:
You can line up a bunch of Chat Heads if you want — again, Facebook is structuring this around individual identities instead of apps.
The HTC First will be the first phone preloaded with Facebook Home.
BUT AT&T, Samsung, and HTC are all on board. You'll also be able to install it on Google Play — it's free, and it'll work on most newer Android phones. So you don't have to buy a Facebook Phone.
Home will also launch on the HTC One X, One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II. You can get it on April 12.
Home will be available on tablets soon, too.
There's also the prospect of advertising which, thanks to Cover Feed, could mean that Facebook Home users could see ads popping up intermittently in the once-sacred real estate of your home screen. Zuckerberg didn't say much about ads, but when asked if they'll be integrated into Home his response was clear. "Yup," he said. "I'm sure at some point there will be."
Overall, the reveal went pretty much as expected. For diehard Facebook users, it's a phone that makes a lot of sense — if Facebook is the thing you use most on your phone, it makes sense to put it at the middle of everything.
But for the growing number growing tired of the social giant, a Facebook-centric mobile experience is going to be a tough sell. This is a bet by Facebook that people don't just like it, they like it more than anything else on their phones.
Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at email@example.com.
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