Facebook is not making its own phone, or a version of Android, because Facebook thinks Android works just fine. Its Facebook Home suite of apps, announced today, replaces the lock and home screens that normally hold your Android apps with updates, pictures and messaging, all delivered through Facebook.
Put simply, Facebook thinks that you'd like to see photos and quips and links from friends, in simple full-screen display, on your phone, rather than always seeing rows of apps you might launch. That's what Facebook Home does, updating your phone with Facebook material you can double-tap to Like or comment on something. The notifications — which only come from friends, not apps and brands — will also stack up and be available to view or dismiss. Facebook Home also combines text messaging with Facebook messaging into an app called Chat Heads.
So what happens to your non-Facebook stuff? You can get to it by pressing on your own profile image in a button, roughly where the Android home button is now. You then see options to check your messages, look at your apps (divided into a "favorites" section and the full list) or head into the full Facebook app.
Facebook Home will be available starting April 12 in the Google Play Store. It's only going to support a few devices out of the gate (HTC One X, HTC One X+, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samasung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy S 4). Facebook says it's planning to bring Facebook Home to more devices, and many manufacturers have signed on to build phones with Facebook Home pre-loaded, starting with the upcoming HTC First. The pre-loaded phones will have a bit more integration, like system notifications inside Facebook Home.
For more details on how the software looks and works, check out the full walkthrough over at our sibling site, Gizmodo, and at Facebook's official announcement below.
Introducing Home [Facebook Newsroom]