On March 28th, online reports claimed that Facebook would launch a Facebook smartphone on Thursday (today). That didn't happen, but the source of the rumor was the HTC First, a sort of dedicated Facebook smartphone made with cooperation from AT&T. Let's take a look.
The Facebook smartphone was supposed to run what was essentially a Facebook OS, a forked version of Android dedicated to all things Facebook. That's not what Facebook announced, unveiling instead "Home," an Android-only app that takes over your Android home screen and lock screen, offering you omnipresent access to chats and status updates (see our full coverage of Home for more).
Here's Facebook's promo video for Home:
AT&T and HTC developed the First, the first Android device to ship with Home installed out of the box. It's set apart from the other four Android devices that will run Home on April 12th by the fact that you won't have to download Home from Google Play.
And that's it.
The HTC First in Pale Blue
Also available in Black, White, Red
(Screen is Facebook Home's Notifications Screen)
AT&T and HTC want to make it out like this is in some way super cool, and maybe it will be to folks who yearn for Facebook content to be shoved in their face the moment they activate their smartphone. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went so far as to introduce it at the end of the "Home" launch event using a Steve Jobs-like "There's one more big thing that we want to talk about."
The device is available for pre-order and will ship on April 12th, the same day that Home will be released. It's priced at $99.95 with a two-year contract. It features a 1280 x 720 resolution screen, runs Android 4.1 out of the box (current version of Android is 4.2.2, so that's pretty cool), has a 2,000mAh battery, and has 16GB of storage. It works on AT&T's LTE network.
We are very interested to see what end-users make of both Home and the HTC First. The price is attractive and the specs are respectable. If folks embrace Home, AT&T and HTC will sell some units. If not, well...nothing ventured, nothing gained.