Facebook has just wrapped up introducing the Facebook Home, and where better to host this big event than in the company’s home in Menlo Park, California. The event was spearheaded by Facebook founder and driving force Mark Zuckerberg who spent several minutes discussing the new application layer before giving the floor to his colleagues. Aside from unveiling the Facebook Home, the company also showed off the HTC First, a handset that comes with Facebook Home already pre-installed.
Facebook Home is an application that is integrated with the Android system. In essence, it’s a skin similar to HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s Touchwiz. Once it is successfully downloaded, any Android device will be incorporated with its 4 essential features – Apps, Cover feed, Chat Heads and Notifications.
The Apps feature has its own distinct drawer. Tapping the bottom of the screen will give you three choices, Apps, Messenger and the last app used while swiping up shows all your apps like Instagram and Google maps. On the other hand, the Facebook Home cover feed changes the lock and home screen of the handset and shows events or activities that your friends have done recently. It’s very similar to the cover feed in a regular Facebook page. Chat heads makes it possible for you to continue chatting with friends and family even when other apps are in use. As the name implies, a head with your friend’s face pops up when someone sends you a message. You’re always within reach whether you’re browsing the web or checking your email. The last major feature is Notifications. It’s similar to the Cover feed except more personal and direct.
Facebook Home and Facebook Messenger can downloaded from Google Play on April 12. However, the application will only work on selected Android handsets like the Galaxy Note II, the One X, One X+ and Samsung’s Galaxy S3. The HTC One and the Galaxy S4 will also support Home when it rolls-out. Facebook Home isn’t ready for tablets yet but the app will reach tablets in a few months. As previously mentioned Zuckerberg’s team also showcased the HTC First, a handset the company worked closely with HTC to develop. AT & T will be offering the device exclusively starting on April 12 and will be carrying a price tag of $ 99.99.
Along with the recent launch of HTC first, Facebook has also introduced the Android-based Facebook Home which aims to give its social networking fans a much easier way to chat with friends and share your day to day activities. However, hints about the possibility of integrating advertising with the app were heard and some FB users would probably not like this, at all.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has said that the initial version of Facebook Home will be advertisement free but succeeding version will certainly have ads in them. The ads are said to be rolling up via the Cover Feed feature of the app. Cover Feed- which is based on Facebook’s News Feed- provides an automatic stream of full-screen images and status updates from friends that scrolls continuously on the home and even on lock-screen of Facebook Home. The ads are said to be random, independent from user searches, high-quality (similar to News feed) and adheres to the app’s aesthetic look.
Obviously, Zuckerberg and co. are putting their best foot forward in order to entice users from downloading and using the app on a regular basis. The company has yet to provide details whether the ad feature will only be present on Facebook Home alone and not on Facebook Phone (HTC first). We’ll get answers soon perhaps. But one thing is for sure, Facebook needs to convert its latest mojo into money, one way or another.
HTC is not only releasing a mobile device that is smart but it’s also a Facebook phone. The HTC First integrates the Facebook Home in its Android system as a pre-loaded freebie with built-in calendars and emails for that important real-time notification. It also comes with a pre-loaded Instagram, another social networking service with photo-sharing. But more on the mid-level Smartphone, it runs on Jelly Bean or Android 4.1 with a 1.4 Ghz dual-core CPU and Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor inside as well as an internal memory of up to 16Gb.
For its externals, it has a 4.3-inch display, a front-facing 1.6Mp camera, and a rear 5Mp camera. At the bottom is the speaker grille; at the right side is the charging port (micro-USB) and micro-SIM tray; at the top is the headphone jack and power button; and at the left is the volume rocker. It weighs 3.37 ounces in a slender body that measures 125.6 x 64.93 x 8.96mm. The lightweight handheld is also possessed of rounded edges which create a comfortable feel along with the matte rubberized cover.
The HTC-Facebook collaborative mid-level phone has been under speculation for months and its announced release comes as a surprise to FB fanatics and HTC users, all and sundry. It could be a new marketing strategy for Facebook given its incapacity to create a phone for now but rather introduce the Facebook Home on Android smartphones as social media-OS integration in lieu of the more common downloadable standalone Facebook app.
Facebook Home faces an army of social-media competitors with the likes of YouTube and Twitter so that social media integration provides it the exposure needed for an improved user experience compared to that of the competitors. Integration means it offers more optimizations and service integrations. It is bound for AT&T exclusive come April 12, 2013 with a price of $ 99.99. And for that price, the Facebook phone offers “minimal” design and features.
HTC first is now available on pre-order basis at ATT.com. It’s not known as to when HTC First is going to land on other regions but the forthcoming AT&T release is something worth waiting at this time.
It is praised extravagantly as the next version of Facebook by founder Mark Zuckerberg but the new Android-based Facebook Home still have to prove its worth to a billion of FB users more than half of whom probably doesn’t have a smartphone yet. It’s an integrated UI app that works with the Android OS for easy navigation and prompt notification especially with emails and social network browsing, something that replaces the common screen environment with a FB look.
It acts like a “hub” for other apps rather than being a part of it eliminating the common lagging experience associated with a standalone FB app. A substantial change was made to the popular News Feed to fit with the integration process and showing the Cover Feed first at the initialization of Facebook Home. Zuckerberg admits that the Android’s open platform has made it easier to implement the integration which is not now possible with iOS because of Apple’s restrictive policy.
Facebook-iOS integration is possible only through a partnership and some corporate control phenomenon. The same thing goes to Microsoft Window mobile platform but this is less restrictive than the iOS and Facebook-Windows integration in the near future is likely to happen first before Apple surrenders to FB. Facebook Home will launch simultaneously with HTC First in April 12.
At what point did the concept of social networking really take off? Was when people started to use it to communicate with each other, or was when people start using it to play games with one another? There are more people today playing games on Facebook than there were just a few years ago. Is social networking becoming just another platform for people to play games?
It could very well be.
Welcome to the Future of Gaming
Facebook has really come a long way, and more people are starting play games on the huge social network. It gives people a new opportunity that has never been presented to them before. It creates a virtual meeting place where people can share their thoughts while playing a game of chess or a trivia game or two, but is it a good platform for gaming?
In order to get an answer to this question, you just need to ask anyone of the game developers. They will tell you that Facebook is an excellent gaming platform, and it is an excellent source of revenue for game developers.
One of the key elements of social gaming on Facebook is the micro-transaction. Most of the games that exist on the social network are loaded with micro-transactions. In order to get something for your game, you may have to spend a little bit of money. Over a period of time, these micro-transactions can really start to add up, but most players don’t even notice. The initial cost seems small and it is really easy to digest, but they add up quickly. The developers behind these games have got to get paid, and this is the revenue model that almost every single social game has decided to use. Micro-transactions can end up becoming quite large.
What Does the Future of Gaming Hold For Facebook?
As the games on Facebook have started to grow in popularity, some really interesting things have started to reveal themselves to Facebook developers. The initial genre of games was very small, and the actual visual appearance of the games was not even remotely important. What mattered the most was the social connections that people were making with these games. In the future, you can expect these social connections to grow quite dramatically. You can also expect the genre of games to grow as well.
Games that require you to think or use some sort of strategy are going to start becoming the most popular. These games will require more social interaction among friends. Strategy games will also grow in size. Instead of your typical two player strategy game like Chess being popular, you will start seeing strategy games that require multiple people. People will have to start working in teams, and this means they will have to start recruiting more and more of their friends. This is how social games on Facebook will continue to grow. The more popular games will go viral as they spread from friend to friend. The single player gaming experience will soon be a thing of the past.