What is this?
On April 4, Facebook (fb) CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Home, a new phone product from the social network. Home takes over an Android user's phone experience, putting "people first," according to the company. The new software will be released on April 12. Here's a closer look at how it works.
What it isn't...
Facebook Home is not the Facebook Operating System many have speculated about. Unlike Google (goog), Apple (aapl), and Microsoft (msft), the company is not pouring resources into creating its own OS. Nor is it "forking" Google's Android OS -- that is, creating its own version of Android as Amazon (amzn) has for its Kindle tablets.
Meet Cover Feed
Cover Feed is the equivalent of the News Feed. It presents new photos and status updates on the first screen a user sees when they turn on their phone. Photos fade and transition between one another.
Liking from Cover Feed
Users can double tap a photo displayed on the Cover Feed to like it quickly.
Facebook's Chatheads float on the screen to indicate new messages from friends and contacts. They can be moved around the screen at will. Touching one will display the messages.
Chatheads allow users to continue conversations even when they're doing something else. In one example, Facebook demonstrated holding a conversation while browsing movie times in the Fandango app.
Chatheads don't just pull in Facebook messages, they can also display SMS messages.
About those other apps...
Non-Facebook apps can be accessed by bringing up an app drawer, much like on current Android phones.
How to install Home
Facebook Home will be available to all Android users. If a user already has the Facebook app installed, it will prompt her to install home automatically. The app will be available on April 12.
These devices will be certified to run Home from the get-go. The company is also working with HTC to sell a $199 phone that puts Home center stage.
Facebook Home will eventually be available for Android tablets as well -- but not at launch time.