The Facebook phone.
Along with Apple’s fabled television set, it’s the one rumour in tech that just won’t die.
Those rumours picked up again this week after Facebook invited the press to an Android-themed event on April 4 at its Menlo Park headquarters.
According to multiple reports, Facebook will introduce a tweaked version of Google’s Android operating system that has a lot of Facebook features like the News Feed and photos baked into the home screen. HTC will reportedly be the first manufacturer to sell a phone running Facebook’s version of Android and Facebook is looking for others to get on board too.
So it’s not exactly a Facebook phone, but an Android-based platform with a bunch of Facebook stuff tacked on.
The thing is, such a device already exists. It’s the phone you’re using now.
Facebook has a growing suite of mobile apps for iOS and Android that can turn any phone into a “Facebook Phone.”
There’s Messenger, which now lets you make free calls to your Facebook friends over a data connection in addition to sending them text messages. Then there’s Instagram or Facebook’s own Camera app for photo sharing. And don’t forget about Poke, which lets you send self-destructing photos and messages, sort of like Snapchat.
If you have an iPhone, Facebook is already baked into the operating system. Just log in once, and you can share stuff like status updates, links, and photos directly from your iPhone without having to open up the Facebook app. It also makes it easier for third-party iPhone apps to connect to your Facebook account. If you install the regular Facebook app on an Android phone, you get similar functionality, at least when it comes to sharing stuff.
It’s hard to imagine what additional functionality Facebook could add to its own tweaked Android OS. (A widget with your Facebook News Feed? Notifications with new messages on the lock screen? A Facebook-blue colour scheme?)
So assuming all the reports are true –– and they’re so consistent from so many different sources that it’ll be a shocker if they weren’t –– it feels a bit odd that Facebook would go out of its way to recreate its social experience on a tweaked version of Android when any phone can get the same benefit just by installing a few apps.
Every phone is already a Facebook phone, whether it’s branded that way or not.
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