Facebook to put own spin on Android with 'new home,' report says

A project apparently dubbed Facebook Home is a version of Android that will run on HTC devices and put the social network's features and apps front and center, according to 9to5Google.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

A Facebook media event invitation the company released last week might be saying more than originally thought.

Last week, Facebook sent out an invite for an event it's hosting on Thursday. On the invitation, the company says, "Come See Our New Home on Android." Other than making clear that it the event will be Android related, the company provided no additional details.

However, the invitation's message might be coded to include the name of a new product the company has been working on, called Facebook Home, Google news site 9to5Google reported, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. Facebook, the site's sources say, has been working on a version of the Android mobile operating system that will run on HTC devices and will put upfront Facebook's many features and apps, including messaging, photos, and contacts. The project is called Facebook Home, according to 9to5Google, thus the mention of the company's "New Home on Android."

The sources that 9to5Google is in touch with did not say exactly what will be shown at the event, but they expect Facebook to detail how its operating system, which is built on top of Android, actually works. So far, no carriers have signed on to carry the devices, 9to5 Google reported, but both Facebook and HTC are in talks to change that. Facebook and HTC will also launch an ad campaign to promote Home, the news site said.

CNET has contacted Facebook for comment on the rumored project. We will update this story when we have more information.

Update 10:55 a.m. PT: Android Police reports that it's seen screenshots and a system dump, which it says shows "a mid-range HTC phone codenamed 'Myst'...[that] sounds a lot like the previously-leaked HTC Opera from last November, too, which was also billed as the alleged 'Facebook phone.'"

Among the most interesting findings, Android Police writes, are some permissions spotted in the code:

These allow Facebook to read the settings for the stock Android launcher, the HTC launcher, and the Touchwiz Launcher. Having permissions for Touchwiz on an HTC phone is a dead giveaway that Facebook plans on releasing Facebook Home not just on this phone, but as a standalone app in the Play Store.

So, while this is a leaked developer build and we have no idea how finished it is, it looks like Facebook is well on its way to turning the Facebook app into a home screen.