Facebook Inc on Thursday unveiled its most ambitious attempt yet to enter mobile computing without a phone of its own, introducing a new app that replaces the home screen on some Android smartphones.
Called “Home,” the new software lets users modify Android, the popular mobile operating system developed by Google, to prominently display their Facebook newsfeed and messages on the home screens of a wide range of devices — while hiding other apps.
“Why do we need to go into those apps to see what's going on with those we care about?” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We want to bring this content to front.”
Analysts say should the new software take off, it may begin to draw users away from Google services. Offering Facebook messaging, social networking and photos on the very first screen that Android users see could divert attention from the panoply of services, such as search and email, which generate advertising revue for Google.
Facebook’s executives also showed off a new “chat heads” messaging interface, which would combine SMS text messages and Facebook chat messages under one tool.
“This can be a change in the relationship with how we use these computing devices,” said Zuckerberg.