The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

April 4, 2013

Facebook unveils 'Home' for Android mobile gadgets

(Continued)

MENLO PARK, Calif. —

With Home, Facebook wants to design smartphone software around people rather than apps, Zuckerberg said during the service's unveiling at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.

"Why do we need to go into all the apps in the first place to see what is going on with the people we care about," he asked.

"We think this is the best version of Facebook there is," he said.

Zuckerberg said users can have an experience on Android phones that they can't have on other platforms. That's because Google makes the software available on an open-source basis, allowing phone manufacturers and software developers to adapt it to their needs.

Recognizing that text messaging is one of the most important tasks on a mobile phone, Facebook showed off a Home feature called "chat heads." This lets users communicate with their friends directly from their home screens — without opening a separate app.

"What Facebook wants is to put itself at the front of the Android user experience for as many Facebook users as possible and make Facebook more elemental to their customers' experience," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

While that makes sense for Facebook, the analyst thinks the company is overestimating "the extent to which this is something their users want."

"I'm sure there are people out there whose lives revolve around their social network and for them it makes sense to have it front and center," Golvin said. "But this doesn't describe the majority of consumers."

The new Home software won't be available for Apple's iPhone and iPad devices. Apple's iOS and Mac operating systems include features that integrate Facebook's services, but Zuckerberg said doing something like Home would require a closer partnership.

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