By Taylor Martin | April 1, 2013 7:00 PM
Rumors of the Facebook phone have been circling off and on for years now. A new rumor would surface and Facebook would publicly shoot the rumor down. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat. Then along came the HTC Salsa and ChaCha with Facebook share buttons in tow, yet Facebook never publicly declared the Salsa or ChaCha official Facebook phones.
Last week, following an unexpected invitation to a Facebook event where the company invited us to see its “New Home on Android”, the rumors picked back up.
“Could this finally be the Facebook phone?” It crossed everyone’s mind. Alas, as the information developed, the possibility of an actual Facebook phone faded. Less than two hours after I published my editorial on the possible Facebook phone and how it would have to offer something special to be of any true importance, The Wall Street Journal reported that the event that is slated to take place this coming Thursday, April 4, will be more about software than hardware. It will be more focused on the time people spend on its mobile service, not on a Facebook-branded device.
Sure, there is still a possibility of a phone bearing the Facebook insignia. But an APK teardown, courtesy of Android Police, reveals that Facebook is set on staking its claim on Android, taking over your home screen … literally.
The device this will debut on is reportedly the HTC Myst, which, according to previous rumors, will be a mid-range device. And like my editorial from Friday suggested, the Myst will come with a special Facebook application/service. “Imagine if the regular Facebook app mutated an extra “home screen” limb – that will give you a good idea of what this ‘Wakizashi’ app is,” says Android Police’s Ron Amadeo.
Amadeo details some of the more intriguing details of the leaked Facebook application, such as two application drawer buttons, a Google search button and all the permissions needed for an application to be your home screen. This certainly sheds some light on what we can expect on Thursday. But there are a lot of unanswered questions, such as how this customized Facebook home screen looks, how it differs from Sense 5, stock Android or even BlinkFeed. Is it overbearing, and how does it incorporate standard Android features, such as the app drawer?
Amadeo does note that this revised Facebook application could also be made available on the Play Store for public download.
No less, I’m left thinking one thing: Why can’t this be an April Fools joke like everything else today?
I do not want Facebook to dominate my home screen.
BlinkFeed, a staple feature of Sense 5, is the sort of thing I will disable and ignore from day one. In my mind, this Facebook home screen concept is not unlike BlinkFeed, specifically for Facebook content. And I can only cringe at the thought of Facebook stepping outside the bounds of its standard application.
I have never preferred any of the mobile Facebook applications – Android or iOS, HTML5 or native. And until the company proves that it can provide a solid, consistent experience on a mobile platform (and decent widgets for Android), I can’t imagine Facebook Home – or whatever it will be called – will be noteworthy or impressive.
There’s the hope that this big move has inspired to make it’s Android performance better and, who knows, a tablet-optimized app.
Either way, there is nothing that would inspire me to want to traverse back to Facebook by hitting my home button. Granted, I’m not particularly a huge fan of Facebook. These days, it’s mainly used for family and close friends. My preferred networks are Twitter and Google+. Yet, given the same concept were applied to those networks, personally, it’s not something I would ever want to use.
I can see the appeal for some, though. I have friends who obsessively post to Facebook. And having Facebook as a home screen replacement would eliminate some steps for sharing and viewing your friends’ timelines.
But for the vast majority of users, I can’t imagine a home screen will be a worthwhile feature.
What say you, readers? While we may not be the target demographic for this Facebook-as-a-home-screen feature, does Facebook’s new home screen sound like something anyone will actually care about after this week is over? Is tighter Facebook integration going to be something that will make the HTC Myst a noteworthy device? And will a standalone Facebook home screen replacement be something any of you could ever see yourself using?
My stance is pretty straightforward. I’m intrigued by the idea. I want to see what it looks like, how it operates, etc. But no, never. I cannot see myself ever caring about Facebook on Android, especially as a home screen.