Friday, April 12, 2013

The New "Facebook Phone" is not a Phone at All

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Link to article:
The Facebook Phone is Not as Dumb as I Thought it Was Going to Be

Tech bloggers and reporters have been waiting for the new "Facebook phone" for years. Now that it has actually arrived, it is not a phone at all. Or an operating system. What it IS is Facebook Home, a new lock screen and home screen replacement that can take over an Android phone and become a de facto user interface. Users who download the new interface are getting a new phone system on their old device, where Facebook becomes the king of all apps.

Excerpt: "If Facebook built its own phone, the company could expect to sell, at most, a few million of them a year—not that many, considering that its social network already claims a billion members. Also, who wants a Facebook phone? What would that even mean? Anybody who wants Facebook on his phone can already get it—the company’s apps and mobile site are hugely popular, and buttons to share stuff on Facebook are built into most mobile phones, including the iPhone. Why should Facebook go to the trouble of building its own phones when phone makers have already done that hard work for them?

That appears to be the thinking behind Facebook Home, the big thing Facebook unveiled on Thursday morning. I choose that term—'thing'—very carefully. Facebook Home isn’t a phone, it isn’t an operating system, and it isn’t an app. Instead, it’s a free-to-download lock- and home-screen replacement for Android phones. If most people’s phones are already Facebook phones, Facebook Home makes them Facebookier, bringing the social-network’s content (including, at some point, ads), to your phone’s foremost screen. By riding in on Google’s Android app store, Facebook Home is a brilliant bit of jujitsu—it uses Android’s 'openness,' Google’s chief selling point for its phone OS, to turn Google phones into Facebook phones. But if Facebook’s strategy works—that is, if millions of people install it and Facebook-ified home screens become a selling point for Android—the move might be even worse news for Apple.

To understand Facebook Home, go to your smartphone and turn it on. You’ll see a screen that displays a clock, some alerts from your apps, and an unlock slider. That’s known as the 'lock screen.' Then, when you unlock your phone, you’re presented with the 'home screen'—the interface that shows off all your apps. If you install Facebook Home, both those screens will immediately be replaced by Facebook’s new interface. After that, every time you turn on your phone you’ll see a feed of photos and updates from your friends."

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