Facebook said to be deploying own version of Android on an HTC phone
29th Mar 2013 | 16:54
We will know all April 4
Update 12:30 p.m. PDT Friday: Facebook may have a sprung a pretty large leak with all the information that's come out about its April 4 event.
Now The New York Times has jumped in, saying that yes, Facebook will show off its own version of the Android OS Thursday, one that will debut on an HTC handset.
The Times, speaking with a Facebook employee and another person briefed on the announcement, backed up the Wall Street Journal's report that Facebook will show up immediately on a user's home screen as the phone turns on, but also added information that Facebook's camera and messaging apps will be default apps for the phone's core functions.
Former Apple engineers who worked on the development of the iPhone are said to be part of the team working on Facebook's mobile phone project.
Update 9:30 a.m. PDT Friday: More evidence is mounting that Facebook intends to reveal an Android feature that deeply integrates the social network into a handset, specifically one from HTC.
Sources speaking with the Wall Street Journal have told the publication that Facebook has been working on software for Android that displays content from a user's account onto the home screen, making that information immediately available instead of users having to navigate to a dedicated Facebook app.
The first phone to demo the feature will be from HTC, the Journal said; however, the social network is also apparently looking for other device makers to partner with. It also plans to make the app available to all Android devices.
In order for the app to work, manufacturers will have to tweak the Android software they deploy. Such changes reportedly don't violate agreements manufacturers have made with Google.
The idea behind the endeavor is to put "Facebook first," one of the publication's sources said, a move that the company hopes increases people's time on Facebook and therefore leads to more ad revenue.
We're beginning to think Facebook must really like having people come visit, or at least we gather that by the number of events the company has been hosting at its headquarters lately.
Thursday the social network sent out media invites to "come see our new home on Android" during an event at 10 a.m. PDT April 4, a few weeks after it unveiled its new News Feed and just a couple of months since we got our first look at Graph Search.
This event promises to be quite different however, particularly as it's focusing on mobile, and a specific system at that.
What's more, this could be more than just a run of the mill app revamp: We could be in for something worth sharing in a status update.
Will we see a Facebook phone?
Sources speaking with TechCrunch say the event will reveal a modified version of Android with heavy Facebook functionality baked into the home screen.
What's more, this retooled OS may be housed in an HTC handset.
While not a complete rewrite, the OS is said to be a "flavor" of Android with extra Facebook spices included. Alternately, TechCrunch sources have heard the Facebook/Android mishmash referred to as an "application layer," one that leans heavily on native Facebook apps like Messenger and includes convenient social sharing functionality from wherever users find themselves on the device.
Yet another rumor calls the whole endeavor "Facebook Home," the marquee feature of which will be a home screen that bears the markings of Facebook through and through.
All of this bleeds into a report from 9to5Google intimating that Facebook and HTC are working on a joint advertising promo. AllThingsD meanwhile reported in 2011 that the two companies were breathlessly working with one another to build a deeply FB-integrated smartphone.
What all this means is that we could indeed see a Facebook phone come to life next week...or not. These are just rumors for now, so take all of the above with a hefty few shakes of salt. However, with the whole "where there's smoke, there's fire" credo, we could see something hardware related creep out of Menlo Park next Thursday.
TechRadar will be at the Facebook's event live to bring you all the latest, so tune back in for more on Facebook's Android aspirations.