One has to keep some skepticism on April Fool’s Day, but a software teardown of a reportedly leaked version of Facebook’s software has the smell of legitimacy. Android Police claims to have the software that will run on Facebook’s own phone, as well as on other Android devices. Facebook has a planned press event to show off its new “home on Android” later this week.
Why does the software leak seem like it could be the real deal to me? Because it fits exactly what I expect to hear out of the Facebook mobile event: A new homescreen dedicated to Facebook apps as well as a low-end to mid-range piece of hardware from HTC to showcase the software. And that’s exactly what Android Police has found through close examination of the software leak.
First the actual phone itself, specifications of which are found in the software. The HTC Myst — likely a codename — is expected to run on a 1 GHz dual-core chip from Qualcomm, with 1 GB of memory and a 4.3-inch display with 720p resolution. A pair of cameras, with 5 megapixel and 1.6 megapixel sensors, is likely to be included as will support for Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi. Look for the phone on AT&T if the software information is correct.
In terms of software, Android Police notes that the Facebook-specific build has all the permissions necessary to manage and be an Android homescreen. That homescreen will work with HTC Sense devices and Samsung’s TouchWiz customized Android software; that makes sense because history has already proven that a dedicated Facebook phone won’t be a big seller. Remember the HTC ChaCha? The only way for Facebook to have a successful “phone” is to leverage the Android devices already on the market by taking more control of the user experience.
That experience will likely be comprised of Facebook apps taking over duties for core Android apps: Messenger, Photos, Places and even the free Facebook voice calls that were introduced earlier this year. All of this would make it easier for users to lean on Facebook as a platform, as opposed to Android. It’s not a question in mind if Facebook is going down this road, but I do wonder how many Android users will actually install a dedicated Facebook home screen and rely on it as their primary mobile interface.
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