In a move that shocked literally no one, Facebook announced this week that they are launching a new mobile platform, Facebook Home. After years of discussion on the topic, it was always expected that Facebook would get more heavily into the mobile landscape. With trouble profiting on mobile, becoming the primary interface for the phone was a logical step.
Facebook representatives described Home like this,
We designed Home to be the next version of Facebook. But we also wanted to do something more. We wanted to reimagine the way we all use computing devices to make us more connected and bring us closer to the people we care about.
That sounds vaguely familiar. In fact, I believe Microsoft said almost exactly the same thing.
We wanted to provide the customer with less clutter, more clarity. This builds upon our mission to make the smartphone smarter and easier. With Windows Phone Mango, we're taking a people-centric approach to communications.
The difference between Windows Phone and Facebook Home is that Microsoft went full-in with Windows Phone, producing a mobile operating system that is entirely people-centric, whereas Facebook has taken a very small approach by only creating a skin for Android.
Your primary view, Cover Feed, is a constantly updating feed of friends' photos and status updates. It replaces your lock screen and home screen, hiding the well-known Windows 3.1-style application sea. To access your application pool, Facebook has taken a page out of Palm's and BlackBerry's book, creating a gesture from the bottom of the screen.
The next "innovative" feature is chat heads - a notification system that allows you to see who is messaging you, either with SMS or Facebook chat, and get to the message quickly. If you don't want to interact with the notification, you can swipe it off of the screen. Again, that description matched webOS and Windows Phone precisely. Now, while Picasso may have said "Good artists copy, great artists steal," they are only great if they can do it well.
We won't know until the launch of the platform whether or not it is great; luckily Facebook Home launches on April 12 with the HTC First, available only on AT&T. Luckily, if you already own an HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II, you will be able to experience Home without a new phone.
Hit the break to check out a video of Home in action.