Today, Facebook recently announced exactly what their plans for their "new home" on Android actually meant. Speculations of what that actually meant went from just being an interface overlay to being an all-out Facebook device similar to the HTC Status. As it turns out it's a little bit of both.
Facebook Home is what the new interface is called, and it’s set to launch on April 12 using the HTC First as the "official" device. The device will sell for $99.99 with a two-year contract or $449.99 without. Facebook Home will also be available on other devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy S 4, Galaxy Note II, and HTC One and One X starting on April 12 as well; it seems that Facebook is branching out from making what I thought would be just a solitary designated “Facebook Phone” and rolling out with more options on some of the most popular phones on the market.
So what does the HTC First have that's special to consumers if Facebook Home is being offered on a multitude of great devices already? Mostly, I believe the phone is there to serve as a mid-range Android device for those who are interested in using Facebook Home but don't necessarily need a powerhouse like the Samsung Galaxy Note II or the HTC One. The HTC First's $99.99 price point is around the price of any other mid-range Android device.
The HTC First has a 4.3-inch 720p Super LCD display. The 4.3-inch screen makes the HTC First the phone with the one of the smallest displays with the option of running Facebook Home, a move that I believe is smart because I think the HTC First is catered more towards first-time smartphone users who may not be interested in a huge device. Under the hood you have a 1.4 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, which isn't the fastest but certainly not the slowest. The rear-facing camera has a 5-megapixel camera and the front sports a 1.6-megapixel camera. The device comes with 1GB of RAM and runs on a 2,000 mAh battery. Facebook Home comes pre-installed and will run on top of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
In my opinion, the specs are good for the price. People who are heavy into Facebook and looking for a decent mid-range Android device will probably take interest in this device. Also, not only are the specs decent, but I actually really dig the design of the device.
I've seen some already say that they're reminded of an iPhone 3G or 3GS, and I agree to an extent - but to be fair just about every phone released now-a-days looks like a device that's already been released previously. Other than the rounded corners and button placement, I can't say that it looks all that similar. The device is offered in four colors (black, white, pale blue, and red) which gives people who are tired of the standard black and white choices something to consider. I don't know what it is about the device that I like so much, but when I first saw it I thought, "Wow, that device is really pretty." I'm trying to think of a word to describe it… soft maybe? I don't know, but the whole design just looks attractive to me.
As positive as I'm trying to stay about the HTC First, there's still the huge piece of the missing puzzle - the potential consumers and just how interested people are in an entirely Facebook dominated Android device. I would consider myself a relatively active Facebook mobile user – I usually check it throughout the day to see what my friends are up to. But the thing about that is that I’m able to do that on my own time; I don’t have to check Facebook if I don’t want to. With Facebook Home your friends and their pictures are right there on your home screen for everybody to see all the time. I don’t know about you guys but sometimes my friends post pictures that I would rather not take up the entirety of my home screen unexpectedly, thank you very much. But there are also cool features like Chat Heads which seems to take messaging to a whole new level, so there are some redeeming qualities about Facebook Home that I like.
I think if this was ever going to be a huge thing that Facebook probably missed its chance – not that they didn’t try before, but the HTC Status just wasn’t cutting it at the time with other competitive smartphones that were hitting the market at the exact same time. But there’s nothing wrong with options, and just because I don’t think Facebook Home will ever become anything huge doesn’t mean the option can’t still be there for the people who would enjoy the constant connection to their friends.
Facebook has done better than I thought they would in creating a new way of browsing Facebook on your phone, and I do like how they’ve included other devices in the lineup instead of just limiting themselves to one mid-range device. While I would suggest veteran smartphone users to use another device instead of the HTC First (like the HTC One or Note II) to use Facebook Home, I can see where the HTC First has its place in the lineup as well and would encourage first time or entry-level smartphone users to check out the HTC First and see if it could be the "first" on your list of smartphones you'd like to take home.
Readers, what do you think of the HTC First and Facebook Home? Do you think you’ll ever give it a try, or does it not really interest you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Images via Mashable