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Facebook announced Thursday its big mobile plans for Android: Facebook Home. Although it will initially be available only on a few models, Facebook Home represents how Facebook wants to exist on Android phones.
If you're confused by Facebook Home or just want to get a better understanding of everything the new interface entails, we've got you covered.
What Is It?
At the Facebook Home event, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg consistently referred to Home as "putting people first instead of apps."
To that end, Facebook Home isn't a new OS and it isn't a fork of Android, instead it is a new home screen and app launcher interface for Android that gives your Facebook notifications, news feed posts and messages more integration with the overall phone experience
What Are the Core Features?
While Facebook Home isn't an Android replacement, it does make some changes to the default Android look and feel.
When you turn on a phone running Facebook Home, the lock screen and the home screen default to something called Cover feed. Cover feed is a stream from your News Feed, putting the focus on what your friends are currently sharing — including photos, status updates and links.
You can flip through stories on the screen and double tap a story to like it. The idea behind Cover feed is to help surface the important updates from the people in your life — updates that might otherwise have missed.
Facebook will push notifications across Facebook Home too. These include updates from Facebook and other apps on your home screen. You can choose to move notifications away until you want to access them later or you can flick them away from view.
On the HTC First, all notifications for apps on your home screen will come through Facebook Home. For users that download Home for their existing Android device, only Facebook notifications will show up.
We're not sure how standard notifications will be handled within Home on devices such as the Galaxy S III and HTC One X — but we assume the drop-down notifications drawer will continue to exist within other apps.
Chat Heads and Messaging
One of the big features Facebook is touting is the new messaging component dubbed chat heads. Chat heads are persistent messages — all avatar based — that can appear on top of other apps.
This means if you get a text message while reading an article on the web, you can respond to that message in a pop-up, without having to navigate to the messages app. Plus, icons for chats can be moved around the screen for fast access to conversations that are ongoing.
Chat heads works with both SMS and Facebook Messenger messages.
While Facebook wants to focus less on other apps and more about making Facebook the center of your phone, Facebook Home will still have an app launcher.
Swiping up on your Facebook profile photo will open up the app launcher. In addition to having a full drawer of all your apps, you can also customize your favorite apps into their own areas and pages.
Facebook Home will be available on April 12 via download from Google Play. Out of the gate, Facebook Home will work on the HTC One, the HTC One X, the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4.