HTC First with Facebook Home officially unveiled, coming to AT&T on April 12 for $99.99
At Facebook’s event, the HTC First was just announced. So the ‘Facebook phone’ is finally real, and it looks just like the leaked renders. It comes with Facebook’s new app, Facebook Home, preinstalled – but otherwise runs Android.
Facebook didn’t fork Android, nor did it develop an OS of its own. The HTC First is the first (ahem…) phone that’s part of the new “Facebook Home program”, which is how Facebook wants to work with phone makers to create an experience in which Home is front and center. And apparently for the future we are to expect more cooperative efforts like the one that nurtured the First.
Facebook Home is basically a replacement for both your lock screen as well as your home screen, and it comes with revamped messaging apps too, but just for Facebook messages and SMS.
It puts huge pictures (from your friends and likes on Facebook) and status updates on your device at all times, from the moment you turn the screen on. Which makes for a very well-looking app that’s pretty much devoid of ‘chrome’, but creates a few problems. First, you can only see one picture / status update at a time, and you need to swipe horizontally to get to the next (or previous) one. That will work out well for people with uncluttered News Feeds, but may not be the best way to quickly navigate through a lot of posts. Second, using Facebook Home as your lock screen and launcher replacement means you have to give up using widgets of any kind, and it’s unclear how exactly it will handle notifications from apps other than Messaging and Facebook.
This ‘Cover Feed’ part of Facebook Home is pretty much what’s been described in one of the company’s recent patent applications. On the other hand, though, at this stage there’s no revamped dialer, no Facebook-ified Caller ID, nor a new (and Facebook-integrated) Camera app. These things are probably coming in the future, though, for Facebook promises monthly updates for Home.
Facebook Home will be out in the Google Play Store on April 12. That’s also the date on which AT&T will launch the HTC First, which will cost just $99.99 with a new two-year contract. The First will be available in ‘pale blue’, red, white, and black. Pre-orders should start later today at this page. In the future, you can expect to see the HTC First offered at Orange and Everything Everywhere in Europe.
The HTC First comes with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, a 5 MP rear camera, a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, and 4G LTE support according to the official press release. The handset runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
The frequency of the processor is unknown, as are all the other specs. This is a rather strange situation, but all the details should leak out soon, even if HTC and AT&T don’t announce anything further. And the phone will be out next week anyway, so we’ll find out everything there is to know about it then.
That said, the published specs are very similar to what we told you last month (back when the First was still known by its codename Myst). So we’re going to assume that the rest of the details are the same too. Which means there’s probably 1 GB of RAM in there, 16 GB of non-expandable storage space, a 1.6 MP front camera, and the screen’s resolution may be 720p HD.