The so-called “Facebook Phone” will be the big news this week. As with many highly anticipated product launches, some believable rumors are filtering out ahead of the official announcement. In this case, the hottest rumors suggest the Facebook Phone will indeed be a “home screen skin” on top of a HTC Android device.
Facebook Home APK
Tech blog Android Police got its hands on the Android Package File (APK) that supposedly shows what the Facebook phone is going to look like and what kind of features it is going to have. Dubbed “Facebook Home,” the file shows a skin for a HTC device as well as a standalone app that will be available through the Android Google Play app store.
The phone itself looks like it will be a mid-level HTC device with a 4.3-inch screen, Android Jelly Bean (version 4.1.2), a 5-megapixel back camera and a 1.6-megapixel front camera. Code named "HTC Myst." the whole thing looks very similar to the long line of mediocre devices that HTC released through 2011 and into 2012.
The APK shows that the device is running HTC’s Sense skin, version 4.5. HTC just released a new iteration in Sense 5 that will ship with its new flagship HTC One smartphones. The HTC skin should not matter, though, as the Facebook APK essentially creates a Facebook home screen designed to push users to Facebook services like Messenger and contacts.
Not Just A Phone
Perhaps even more important, It looks like any user that wants to create the Facebook Home experience on their Android devices will be able to. Part of the APK is integration for Samsung’s Touchwiz skin, meaning that the app/home screen will be available outside of the dedicated HTC “Myst” device.
Facebook is well aware that it does not need a dedicated smartphone to compete with the likes of Apple, Google, BlackBerry and Microsoft. Its greatest strength has been to be one of the apps that is absolutely necessary on all of those devices. If the “Myst” device is just a proof of concept running a tightly integrated Facebook experience, the social giant can move horizontally through the Android ecosystem and give users the same experience without having to actually buy a “Facebook Phone.”
In the end, that's likely a much stronger position for the social networking giant.
Image: Facebook group chat from Facebook Mobile.