Facebook set to hijack Android on HTC's next phone


March 29, 2013

Facebook reportedly wants to invade Android home screens on upcoming phones

Facebook reportedly wants to invade Android home screens on upcoming phones

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For the last couple of years, the “Facebook phone” has lived in a faraway land – along with the unicorn, the Yeti, and the Apple TV set. Though we’d still be skeptical of any reported Yeti sightings, your eyes won’t be deceiving you if you soon see the mythical Facebook phone.

The first signs came yesterday, when Facebook sent out invitations alluding to “our new home on Android.” Today The Wall Street Journal chatted with an unnamed Facebook employee, who confirmed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has plans to Facebook-ify the Android home screen on select phones.

The initiative will start with an upcoming HTC handset (the first real “Facebook phone”?), but he reportedly hopes to strike similar deals with other Android device manufacturers.

Your new homescreen

From the description, it sounds like Facebook’s software is at least a launcher (home screen replacement). Or it could be a full-blown skin, similar to HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s TouchWiz. When you unlock the Facebook phone’s screen, you’ll see your Facebook feed. There are already Facebook homescreen widgets that do something similar, but this sounds like it takes it a step (or seven) further.

App launchers (home screen replacements) don’t violate Google’s terms, so the phone would likely still include Google’s suite of apps: Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, etc. This is different from forked versions of Android (like Amazon’s Kindle Fire software) that eschew Google’s services altogether.

It isn't clear whether the phone will have any physical Facebook branding, but it wouldn't be surprising. Facebook and HTC previously collaborated on the forgettable HTC ChaCha back in 2011. It was only a "Facebook phone" in that it had a button dedicated to the social network.

Facebook mobility

Facebook has shifted its priority to mobile during the last couple of years. Zuckerberg was reportedly unhappy with the company’s Android app, and started an initiative to encourage its employees to use Android phones, if only to see how much work the app needed.

Don’t expect to see anything like this on the iPhone. iOS 6 has Facebook integration baked in, but only through system-wide sharing. Apple wields tight control over its software, and would never let another company jack the home screen.

Android is a prime target for Facebook's more prominent mobile push, due to its customizability. Oh, and its status as the world's most widely used mobile OS can't hurt either.

We’ll hear more about this at Facebook’s event next Thursday.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin


Facebook mobile doesn't even work right on the stock browser interface, much less as an app. I can't imagine them producing a stable, functional, android skin. Look, I'm still on facebook (only barely, but I'm not against them as a company) but given that even the Sense and Touchwiz are considered by most of the android users I know to be more annoying bloatware than actually useful, I can't imagine people rushing out for a phone based on a program that is one of the least functional available.


Yup - sounds like a forked up version of Android to me


“Whenever you create a universal device that does all things for all people, it does not do any things well,” he said ( “Our future I think is a number of specialist devices that focus on one thing that will improve our lives.”

Alind Rathore
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