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Facebook custom Android OS launching on HTC phone next week?

Facebook is rumoured to have a custom version of Android up its sleeve, set to debut on a new HTC device.

The Facebook phone rumours have popped into our news feed again, but this time with a little more meat to them. According to the New York Times, the social network is about to unveil a custom-made version of Google's Android mobile operating system.

The friend-friendly software will make its debut on a handset made by HTC, according to whispers from a mystery Facebook employee and someone else privy to these matters.

We've not long to wait to find out if this is true either -- the phone and software will launch at a Facebook event on Thursday, according to the report.

So how will Facebook's version of Android differ to the standard one? Well turn on the device and the first thing you'll see will be your Facebook home screen. If you want to snap a picture or send a missive, the device will default to Facebook's camera and messaging apps, respectively. Which could be annoying, in my opinion.

Facebook previously partnered with HTC on the Salsa and ChaCha -- two handsets that featured a Facebook button to take you straight to your social networking hub. The INQ Cloud Touch also had Mark Zuckerberg's baby baked into its operating system. But this latest venture sounds like it'll take Facebook integration to the next level.

Facebook has been on a mobile push in the last couple of years, launching Poke (a private messaging app), a camera app specifically for tagging and uploading to the social network, and Messenger, which is a rival to BlackBerry's BBM.

Tweaking Android for your own ends is nothing new -- Amazon has done so on its Kindle Fire range of tablets.

A Facebook spokesperson wouldn't reveal what will be at Thursday's event. But he did say it'd be a "significant mobile-focussed announcement."

Will we finally see a true Facebook phone? Is HTC the right partner? And what features would you like on a handset built for social networking? Let me know in the comments, or on our very own Facebook page.