Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new experience for Android phones on Thursday (April 4th). The idea behind the new Facebook Home software is to bring content right to you, rather than require people to check apps on the device.
"Today we're finally going to talk about that Facebook phone," Zuckerberg said. "More accurately, we are going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great simple social device."
Facebook's new family of apps will let users display mobile versions of their newsfeed and messages prominently on the home screens of a wide range of devices based on Google's Android operating system, Zuckerberg said.
"Today our phones are designed around apps and not people. So, we want to flip that around," he told hundreds of reporters and industry executives In Menlo Park, California.
Shares in Facebook climbed 2 percent to $26.83 in the afternoon. Google stock was off 1.5 percent at $793.81.
"The home screen is really the soul of your phone. You look at it about a hundred times a day," Zuckerberg said. "It sets the tone for your whole experience and we think that it should be deeply personal. So, today, we are going to talk about this new experience for your phone. It is a family of apps and you can install it and it becomes the home of your phone, so we are calling this 'Home'.
Facebook executives showed a new Chat Heads messaging service and Cover Feed -- both of which dominate users' home screens and continuously feed messages, photos, status updates and other content from Facebook's network.
For Facebook, bolstering its mobile presence is critical. Nearly 70 percent of Facebook members used mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access its service at the end of 2012, and 157 million of Facebook's roughly 1 billion users accessed the service solely on a mobile device.
The company has stepped up efforts to ensure that its revenue-generating ads can be viewed on mobile devices and Zuckerberg has said that the company's engineers are now focused on creating "mobile-first experiences."
With specialised software that adds a layer on top of Android, Facebook may get many of the benefits of having its own phone without the costs and risks of actually building a hardware device.