We’re less than four months into the year, and it’s already turning out to be a great one for smartphones. BlackBerry got the ball rolling with its long-anticipated BlackBerry Z10 handset in late January, the flagship Samsung Galaxy S4 was unveiled a few weeks ago, and the new HTC One will hit the market next month. But, there is another entrant that is about to hit the playing field.
Facebook has invited members of the press to a media event at its company headquarters in suburban Menlo Park, California, next Thursday, April 4th at 10:00 AM Pacific, to show off its “New Home on Android.” According to the highly-connected Mark Gurman, reporting for 9to5Google, and corroborated by multiple other sources, that almost certainly means the arrival of the long-rumored Facebook Phone.
Facebook is reportedly teaming up with Taiwanese handset maker HTC to manufacture the Facebook Phone, which will run a modified version of the Android operating system that is highly-tailored towards the Facebook platform. That custom mobile platform is something we’re guaranteed to get a peek at next week, according to various reports.
Gurman shares some details about the upcoming platform:
The phone’s software is a forked version of the Android operating system. Facebook’s features, like messaging, photo uploading, and contacts integration is fully integrated throughout the operating system.
Josh Constine for TechCrunch elaborates further:
It’s said not to be a full-on rewrite of Android, but rather a “flavor” that will have all sorts of extra Facebook functionality built in. We’ve also heard it referred to as an “application layer”. Imagine Facebook’s integration with iOS 6, but on steroids, and built by Facebook itself. It could have a heavy reliance on Facebook’s native apps like Messenger, easy social sharing from anywhere on the phone, and more.
In terms of hardware, the Facebook Phone is said to share the design language of the current iPhone. It will have a home button, capacitive buttons, and a larger display than the iPhone; according to Gurman, citing previous rumors, it could be a 4.3-inch display. The mockup below, designed by Spencer Caldwell, might give you an early glimpse of what the handset might at least remotely look like.
Now that we’ve covered all of the hardware and software details of the Facebook Phone, is this something we really need? Honestly, how much different will this be than just grabbing your iPhone and tapping on the Facebook application? iOS 6 even has native Facebook sharing integration, so the iPhone is already becoming more and more like a Facebook Phone itself.