Facebook Home faces hurdles getting on iOS

Facebook's new app is Android only, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company wants the software on "every" device.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Facebook Home interface. James Martin/CNET

Facebook's flashy, new phone software is Android only for now, but it might not be that way forever, the company said today.

When asked about whether the software was headed to Apple's mobile platform anytime soon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't count it out, but noted that such a feature would require cooperation.

"We have a great relationship with Apple," Zuckerberg told reporters in a Q&A session after the unveiling of Home. "Anything that happens with Apple is going to happen with partnership. Google's Android is open so we don't have to work with them."

"We want to build the best Facebook experience for every person on every device," he added.

The software, which will go live on Google's Play store on April 12, replaces Google's Android app launcher, and makes Facebook the first thing users see when they use their phones. Included are some basic Facebook features like browsing through news items, photos, and chats. It also doubles as a way to launch other apps that are installed on the device.

There's no such parallel with Apple's software, where users and third-party applications are unable to change some of the phone's core behavior (including the lock screen) without jailbreaking -- something Apple discourages and has actively attempted to curb with software updates.

The clear benefit from Apple's system is that all users on iOS have the same experience, and applications cannot gain too much control. That power struggle also has caused tension for companies that want more access to software features, including Google. The company has rolled out a number of such software products for Android that later made their way over to iOS, oftentimes with less functionality as a result. That list includes its Goggles product, as well as voice search. More recently, the company appears set to bring its Google Now service over, which pings for data in the background and provides live status updates.

Future versions of Apple's software might change that policy and give applications a deeper level of control and access. However Apple's penchant for control of the user experience makes such a scenario unlikely. With that said, Facebook, as well as Twitter, are already built in as core parts of iOS, suggesting there's room to grow what those apps can do.

Apple is expected to debut the next major version of iOS at its annual developers conference, which typically takes place in June. A patch of rumors earlier this week suggested Apple was behind on the project after shuffling developers to work on the next big release of its OS X software for Macs.

Watch this: Facebook unveils 'Home' for Android