'Facebook phone' to get its teeth into Android

The long awaited 'Facebook phone' is due to be announced today, with rumours suggesting that HTC will produce a special version with the social network's branding.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

As secretive as the hottest tech companies are, the rumour mill just keeps on spitting out gossip. Apparently, today, Facebook will reveal a new suite of apps that essentially ‘take over’ Android phones.

It’s not thought that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has any plans for Facebook to make its own phones or develop an operating system. But a package which uses software to turns your device into a Facebook phone – with its own home screen – will soon be available.

It's a significant riposte to Zuckerberg's own admission last year that the company had been pretty slow on the uptake where mobile was concerned. But mobile now constitutes around a quarter of the company's revenues.

So what exactly are the features? Well, because it’s still just rumours, the details are vague. But the idea is that all your photos, music, videos, Instagram snaps, and status updates and chatting with your friends will be done from the phone without you having to manually open a Facebook app. Currently, you have to go into Facebook to do these things.

The first iteration will apparently be in tandem with one of the smaller smartphone players, HTC. The plan is to create a Facebook-branded phone, running Android, but containing all of the Facebook features. 

This will help showcase the new setup so that people with other smartphones get a glimpse of how it will all fit together. Then they’ll roll it out as a software package for people with phones that are not already Facebook-branded.

The point of it all is so that Facebook can get its teeth into the lucrative mobile phones sphere without the expense or headache of having to design its own operating system or handsets. 

The fact that Android is open source (meaning users can install whatever they like on their phone) means there is a unique opportunity to get users doing everything phone-related through Facebook. Presumably this will push up the advertising revenues somehow.

Interestingly, because Apple keeps very tight control of its iOS system, the same software take over will not be possible on the iPhone. Apps have to be approved by Apple before becoming available to users, and there’s no way this type of parasitic software will get past their cyber sniffer dogs.

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