Live blog: Facebook’s new Home on Android

Facebook Android Home

After years of rumors about a Facebook phone, the company is going to be addressing mobile in a big way Thursday morning at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., with plans to discuss “our new Home on Android,” according to invitations sent out last week. The event starts at 10am PT, and our live coverage is below.

So far, Facebook has announced “Home,” a collection of apps and services that connect Facebook friends with a number of different services, including messaging, integrated on top of Android. Home will come preloaded on several devices, but will start with the HTC First, which will be available exclusively on AT&T’s network later this month for $99.99.

Eliza Kern 11:07:20 am

Thanks so much for following along with us today! That’s it for the liveblog, but we’ll have more coverage later today on what this means for both Facebook’s social business and the mobile landscape. Stay tuned.

Eliza Kern 11:06:14 am

And with that, we’re done! Some doors just opened at the side of the room, and we’ll be able to go check out the phones.

Eliza Kern 11:05:32 am

Facebook clarifies that we won’t see ads on the cover photos at first, but that could be coming.

Eliza Kern 11:02:27 am

Zuckerberg says it will start on some of the more popular Android devices, but they’ll try to get it out to as many phones over time as possible.

Eliza Kern 11:01:56 am

ICS and Jellybean are the Android versions it will be available on, and they’ll be rolling out international adoption.

Eliza Kern 11:00:52 am

Someone asks about third-party developer options, like having Pinterest or Tumblr on your Facebook Home. Zuckerberg says that wasn’t a focus for this version, since the content and photos from your closest friends still makes up the majority of information in the News Feed, but could be possible in the future.

Eliza Kern 10:57:56 am

Zuckerberg forgets someone’s second question about monetization. Reporter reminds him. He chuckles,” Oh, that. I didn’t forget on purpose.”

Eliza Kern 10:57:00 am

“I think this is actually really good for Android,” Zuckerberg says in response to a question as to whether this could put Facebook in competition more with Google.

Eliza Kern 10:55:58 am

Om points out that Google has been known to change its mind. What happens then? Zuckerberg notes it’s a gamble with any company, but thinks if people devote a lot of time to a particular feature, Google would have a hard time going back on that.

Tom Krazit 10:54:55 am

Eliza Kern 10:54:53 am

Om asks Zuckerberg what happens if Google goes back on its premise of openness that allows Facebook to build Home. Zuckerberg says that would be a strong pivot if they did so.

Eliza Kern 10:54:17 am

Someone asks what this means for Facebook’s relationship with Apple. Zuckerberg says it’s still strong, but obviously any push forward on Apple will come from a partnership with Apple.

Tom Krazit 10:53:32 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:52:25 am

Please, someone ask: Can you uninstall the launcher app if it’s preinstalled? I’m betting not, but you can always choose to use a different launcher.

Tom Krazit 10:52:14 am

Eliza Kern 10:51:58 am

Someone asks if Facebook will be collecting more data on people if they use the Facebook Home. Zuckerberg says it won’t be any different from how operating systems from Apple or Google collect information on users.

Eliza Kern 10:50:53 am

Zuckerberg quoting Steve Jobs who said the computer augments your mind. Zuckerberg thinks for Facebook, it augments your social life.

Eliza Kern 10:50:16 am

Hah, someone asks if the activity happening on our phones distracts us from the people we’re with in real life. Not surprisingly, Zuckerberg thinks this “enables lighter-weight communication,” and lets us communicate with more people than we would in person.

Eliza Kern 10:49:18 am

Recognition that we spend more time checking our notifications and home screen than any one app, I guess. Makes sense.

Eliza Kern 10:48:54 am

“The average person goes into the Facebook app about 10-12 times a day, and the average person looks at the lock screen on their phone hundreds of times a day,” Zuckerberg says.

Eliza Kern 10:47:50 am

“The battery life is just outstanding,” the team says in response to that question.

Eliza Kern 10:46:39 am

Where will search come from? someone asks. “It’s an Android phone, so it can come from anywhere you want,” Zuckerberg replies.

Eliza Kern 10:46:00 am

Now everyone’s coming back on stage for the Q&A section of the announcement.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:45:29 am

Is this generation empowered to remove the Facebook Home launcher if it’s pre-installed? Zuck?!?

Eliza Kern 10:45:04 am

“The very definition of what a computer is and what our relationship with it should be hasn’t been set for the majority of the world,” he says. “We’re about to see the most empowered generation of people in history.”

Eliza Kern 10:44:33 am

Only about one third of the world is on the internet, even if he and I grew up on it, Zuckerberg notes. Points out the importance of feature phones.

Eliza Kern 10:43:59 am

Zuckerberg again pointing out the roles phones play in our lives, and reiterating the importance of “people first.”

Tom Krazit 10:43:33 am

Eliza Kern 10:43:16 am

So you can download Home on April 12th in the Play store, or shell out $99 for the HTC First through AT&T, it looks like.

Eliza Kern 10:42:41 am

Zuckerberg points to the minimal experience on phones, and says he’s looking forward to it.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:42:26 am

If the rumored specs are correct, it’s worth about $99. If the specs are better, it’s a good deal.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:41:49 am

We get it, Ralph. LTE is fast.

Eliza Kern 10:41:48 am

It’s going to be available on April 12th for $99.99 exclusively with AT&T he says.

Tom Krazit 10:41:27 am

Eliza Kern 10:40:56 am

“I’ve used a lot of phones, and this phone has the most immersive experience I’ve ever seen,” he said. Again notes the 20 percent of time spent on mobile that’s directed at FB.

Tom Krazit 10:40:41 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:40:35 am

Sorry, I don’t see the HTC First helping HTC’s sales / financial woes….

Eliza Kern 10:40:23 am

“We brought Peter in, and that let to the HTC First, which we’re very proud to sponsor,” he says. “It’s a device that’s been designed from the get-go for giving you the best experience possible.”

Tom Krazit 10:39:47 am

Eliza Kern 10:39:45 am

“Apps are not at the center, but people are at the center of that, and we bought into that,” he says.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:39:34 am

Believe me, I’m yelling at the screen. No reaction from Chou but my dog just ran to the other end of the house….

Eliza Kern 10:39:23 am

Now we’re hearing from Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility.

Eliza Kern 10:38:56 am

Not sure I’m ready to heckle yet, Kevin. But maybe if you yell loud enough at the livestream he’ll hear you…

Kevin C. Tofel 10:38:22 am

Eliza, can you yell “HTC ChaCha 2!!!!” for me? ;)

Eliza Kern 10:38:20 am

It will be a social phone, he says, that gives you the best Facebook experience. “It’s the only phone that has Facebook preloaded and optimized.”

Kevin C. Tofel 10:37:55 am

Hey, the HTC First comes in red, not Facebook Blue!

Eliza Kern 10:37:42 am

And here’s the “HTC First,” he says.

Eliza Kern 10:37:29 am

Nice detail — when each speaker gets up on the stage here to speak, below their name on the Powerpoint is their own face button launcher that you’ll see on Home.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:37:29 am

Guess there is hardware, now that Chou from HTC is speaking. Here comes the mid-range HTC First?

Tom Krazit 10:37:12 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:36:44 am

Pre-installed Facebook Home from HTC, Samsung, Sony and others? So long as it’s easy to remove the launcher if the consumer chooses, that’s fine.

Eliza Kern 10:36:37 am

“It’s clear that Facebook has created a really unique experience,” he says.

Eliza Kern 10:36:27 am

Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, gets up to talk about his partnership with Facebook on this.

Eliza Kern 10:36:02 am

A number of phone carriers have already signed up to work with Facebook to integrate Home.

Tom Krazit 10:35:46 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:35:31 am

Ah, my Galaxy Note 2 is one of the first phones supported. I can’t wait to download. (Actually, I can but I’ll take one for the team.)

Eliza Kern 10:35:03 am

And… we have one more thing, Zuck says.

Eliza Kern 10:34:54 am

The downloads will become available in about a week, Zuckerberg says.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:34:46 am

Have to wonder: since it sorta got owned by Amazon and now Facebook, how is Google feeling about Android openness? NONE of what Facebook announced today benefits Google in any way.

Eliza Kern 10:34:31 am

We have a dude on a plane, and everything happening on his phone is coming to life on the plane. Looks very much like a traditional TV ad.

Eliza Kern 10:33:42 am

Om tells me it reminds him of the Kindle, which is exactly what Kevin noted. Now we’re watching a video.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:33:21 am

Thank goodness there’s no hardware announcement. That would have been a waste. See the HTC ChaCha/Salsa for why….

Eliza Kern 10:33:01 am

He’s thanking everyone at Facebook who worked on it, etc. Wearing the black hoodie, per usual.

Eliza Kern 10:32:33 am

“We think that this is the best version of Facebook that there is,” Zuck says.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:32:26 am

IMO: Facebook could have simply created this experience in its app. But it chose to do with a launcher so it can “own” more of the experience. (And data)

Tom Krazit 10:32:22 am

Eliza Kern 10:32:20 am

We’re back to Zuck.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:31:24 am

Essentially, Facebook has taken the same approach that Amazon has with the Kindle: It’s hiding Android.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:30:53 am

… as in not through the Google Play store.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:30:24 am

I wonder if Facebook Home will see updates automatically from Facebook…..

Eliza Kern 10:30:13 am

Like every app, home will release every month, “just like everything we do on mobile.”

Eliza Kern 10:29:44 am

Ah, now we get to see tablets. They said this isn’t a launch on tablets, but they’ll try to make it available within a few months.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:29:36 am

And there you go: It’s a launcher for sure and that means you’ll have to choose it each time or choose to use it every time, meaning goodbye TouchWiz, Sense or native Android home screen.

Eliza Kern 10:29:15 am

Looks like you should head to Google Play to download “Facebook home.” Just hit “install.”

Eliza Kern 10:28:56 am

Hah, I’m with you that I’d have to try it out to decide, Kevin.

Eliza Kern 10:28:27 am

Now we’re moving on to hear about how to install the Facebook “home.”

Kevin C. Tofel 10:28:24 am

And we have our first live-blog disagreement. ;)

Tom Krazit 10:28:13 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:28:04 am

This could make the screen get very busy…. I get what Facebook is going for here, but I’m not sold that it’s delivering a good experience. Will have to get it installed and try it, of course.

Eliza Kern 10:28:02 am

As a really rapid texter who’s often carrying on multiple conversations with people at any one time, I can totally see how easier chat organization would be useful.

Tom Krazit 10:27:44 am

Eliza Kern 10:27:20 am

OMG no way. Messages for all!

Kevin C. Tofel 10:27:07 am

Hey, it’s iMessage for Facebook! ;)

Eliza Kern 10:26:52 am

Ah, he addresses my question. You’ll be able to see which are text messages and FB messages, and they’ll both use the “Chat Head” design.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:26:19 am

Great point. So far I see no deep Android integration with other core apps.

Eliza Kern 10:25:53 am

Although it looks like this all revolves around Facebook messaging. So if you don’t use their app for messaging, not sure how useful that would be.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:25:49 am

It is nice, but…. that little Chat Head icon that appears over your current app might be covering a button or something. Not sure I like that.

Tom Krazit 10:25:33 am

Eliza Kern 10:25:05 am

You can see previews of messages no matter where you are in the phone and how many unread messages you have. So you can tap faces and head into the conversation. That is pretty nice that you don’t have to leave the app you’re in to chat quickly.

Eliza Kern 10:24:01 am

“You should really be able to talk to your friends no matter where you are in your phone, ” Flynn says. You should have messaging everywhere.

Eliza Kern 10:23:22 am

Joey Flynn, product designer, takes the stage now to talk about “Chat Heads.” Which is a bizarre name for messaging, I must say.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:23:14 am

OK, now the app organization is going to make things messy IMO. You can add / remove app icons there, but of course, they will still be in the native app launcher for Android. Yuck….

Tom Krazit 10:22:51 am

Eliza Kern 10:22:48 am

Apps on the model phone app screen? Instagram, Chrome, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google Maps, and a few others.

Eliza Kern 10:22:17 am

If you tap and hold on your face, you can pull up the “app launcher,” which lets you organize your apps.

Tom Krazit 10:22:15 am

Eliza Kern 10:21:57 am

As Om and I both noticed, the circle logo for your face at the bottom looks a lot like the Path launcher.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:21:44 am

So far, this all points to what I mentioned earlier this week: Facebook is fighting Google for more user engagement. By focusing on people, something Google hasn’t quite done with Android, it could work. PROVIDED that folks install this, that is.

Eliza Kern 10:21:20 am

We’ll bring the show back for that, Kevin :) Currently we’re swiping through FB photos and seeing how you can check notifications.

Eliza Kern 10:20:39 am

Once you tap your face, you see your top notifications from other people.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:20:34 am

Maybe we’ll see a Flipboard phone next month, Eliza? ;)

Eliza Kern 10:20:16 am

Yep, as Kevin notes, it does look like Flipboard. But all for Facebook photos.

Tom Krazit 10:20:10 am

Eliza Kern 10:19:59 am

Not surprisingly, you can like, comment, and zoom in on photos as you swipe through them. So basically your home screen looks like one big Facebook photo album.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:19:45 am

Cover feed / home reminds me of Flipboard as your lock screen, but only with Facebook data, of course. *sigh*

Eliza Kern 10:19:20 am

Looks like you can swipe through different “home screens” that show mainly your friend’s photos as you swipe along.

Tom Krazit 10:18:55 am

Eliza Kern 10:18:37 am

“What we aspire to do with home is provide a lot more value” in the moment you get in the minute you turn on your phone. It’s not just the time and a few notifications.

Eliza Kern 10:17:54 am

Adam Mosseri, director of product, takes the stage to walk us through the specifics of the product.

Tom Krazit 10:17:41 am

Eliza Kern 10:17:35 am

Zuck is currently moving Sheryl Sandberg’s “chat head” around the test screen.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:17:19 am

And messaging a focus makes sense. I do like how the software allows for messaging on top of whatever app you’re using. Good use of a single screen….

Eliza Kern 10:17:17 am

Now we’re looking at Instagram as an example app. You can drag people’s faces, or “chat heads” as they’re called, around your screen and put them where you want them.

Eliza Kern 10:16:36 am

So you’ll be able to tap on people, and bring up your messages with those people, even as you flip through different apps. Obviously messaging is a big focus.

Tom Krazit 10:16:21 am

Eliza Kern 10:16:02 am

“Phones are communication devices, and we spend all day messaging. But in today’s app-centric world, messaging is treated as just another app,” he says. “But we want to talk with people, not apps.”

Kevin C. Tofel 10:15:41 am

First time Zuck called it a launcher; which is pretty much what we expected.

Eliza Kern 10:15:18 am

Your face will be centered at the bottom of the screen like a button, and you’ll swipe up to see your apps. Kind of weird to be swiping your face around the screen.

Eliza Kern 10:14:38 am

Huh, so notifications will center around people. So if my friend Joe does things on Facebook, we’ll see what’s happening with Joe, not a traditional Facebook notification. Fits with Zuck’s “it’s all about people” theme today.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:14:37 am

Wonder what this will do to battery life on Android devices…. constant updates could hit it hard. Same with mobile broadband… curious if Zuck mentions this and/or how to configure it.

Tom Krazit 10:14:07 am

Eliza Kern 10:13:48 am

“We wanted this to feel like system software, and not just apps that you run, and there’s a higher bar for that,” he says. Right now we’ve just seen photos of dudes with bikes and dogs. Not too much detail yet.

Tom Krazit 10:13:22 am

Eliza Kern 10:13:10 am

Since home is the lock screen in addition to the phone screen, you don’t need to do any kind of gestures to see that content, he says.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:13:08 am

Looking more and more like the Windows Phone People approach, at least in concept: Updates from people flow on the home screen / lock screen in lieu of a tile or widget.

Eliza Kern 10:12:26 am

“With home, you see your world through people, not apps,” he says. They’re all about phones focusing on people today.

Eliza Kern 10:12:00 am

And here’s the news: You’ll get a series of apps that you can install on your Android phone, and it’ll be called “home.”

Kevin C. Tofel 10:11:44 am

Facebook looks like it will sit in between the Android software stack and apps via the Home screen. Makes sense and I wouldn’t call it a “fork” of Android.

Eliza Kern 10:11:27 am

“The home screen is the soul of your phone,” he says. You check it all the time, and “we think it should be deeply personal.”

Eliza Kern 10:11:01 am

Android is really open, and that’s a benefit for Facebook, Zuck explains. “Android was designed from the ground up for these kinds of deep integrations.”

Eliza Kern 10:10:27 am

“We’re not building a phone. And we’re not building an operating system. But we’re building something that’s a whole lot deeper than just an app.” — Zuck

Kevin C. Tofel 10:10:23 am

Based on Zuck’s last comment, it sounds like there won’t be hardware today. Interesting but probably good; the software approach offers a far wider chance at success.

Tom Krazit 10:10:21 am

Eliza Kern 10:09:50 am

“We want to do more than that. We want to build the best experience for every person on every phone.”

Eliza Kern 10:09:34 am

“We want to deliver this experience to as many people as possible,” he says. No need for Facebook to build a “great phone” that only a few people use.

Tom Krazit 10:09:01 am

Eliza Kern 10:08:57 am

Now we’re looking at the News Feed, and Zuck reminds us that “home is all this fresh content,” that isn’t divided into friends, photos, and other categories. It’s all mixed into one feed.

Eliza Kern 10:08:21 am

Checking in with people on your phone isn’t about doing a task, it’s about “being human,” Zuck says. We should make phones more people-centric.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:08:08 am

But do the “people around us” want that? ;)

Eliza Kern 10:07:36 am

“More and more, we want to know what’s going on with the people around us.”

Eliza Kern 10:07:18 am

Now we’re looking at the most common types of phones, and Zuck notes that it’s pretty much an app-filled world.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:06:58 am

Sounds like Zuck is describing the Windows Phone People Hub approach….

Eliza Kern 10:06:48 am

What if we flip around our phones, interacting with people rather than apps? Zuck asks. We’re now looking at a home screen of a phone filled with people.

Tom Krazit 10:06:27 am

Eliza Kern 10:06:07 am

As Om noted this week, people spend about 20 percent of the time on their phones on FB, and if you have Instagram, it’s closer to 1/4 of your phone time on their products.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:05:59 am

Interesting…. because Android phones aren’t great social phones, Zuck. One of Android strengths is the intents system that allows for simple sharing…

Eliza Kern 10:05:39 am

It’s all about open and connected, he says. Open is being able to learn about the world around you, and social means being able to reach the people you care about. It’s what makes us human, Zuck argues.

Eliza Kern 10:05:10 am

Or more accurately, how you’ll turn your Android phone into a great social phone, he says.

Eliza Kern 10:04:55 am

“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” he says.

Eliza Kern 10:04:40 am

And here’s Zuck. We’re off.

Eliza Kern 10:04:27 am

Facebook is all about some Mumford and Sons, it seems.

Eliza Kern 10:03:30 am

Lights go down, and now we’re waiting.

Eliza Kern 10:02:00 am

And apparently we’ll be starting momentarily.

Tom Krazit 10:00:50 am

Kevin C. Tofel 10:00:39 am

It would indeed be interesting if the actual hardware of a Facebook phone — and some of the data plan — were completely subsidized by Facebook. Hmmm….

Kevin C. Tofel 9:59:06 am

So AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega has been spotted at the event by several on Twitter. Carrier partner news today too, perhaps?

Eliza Kern 9:56:05 am

It’s a pretty packed room today — seems much bigger than the News Feed event from last month.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:55:44 am

I should probably go on record now to repeat my tweet from yesterday: If Facebook announces little more or the same thing that leaks have shown (a mid-range HTC phone to showcase Facebook Home) and a new launcher for Android, I’ll be less than impressed. But I’m staying open minded… and hoping for more!

Kevin C. Tofel 9:54:00 am

Actually, there’s lots happening in Pennsylvania, but none of it related to Facebook. That changes in about 7 minutes though! :)

Eliza Kern 9:52:56 am

Om and I are here at Facebook, and we’ll have Kevin joining us from good old Pennsylvania. Nothing happening yet, but we’re all set at Facebook.


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