HTC First.

A couple quick thoughts on the "HTC First," aka the first Facebook phone.

First off, the hardware most definitely isn't the most important part of this phone. If you're the kind of nerd who lives for specs -- the speeds and feeds crowd -- head elsewhere. In fact, there was very little talk at today's event at Facebook HQ (and same for the ensuing press releases) about the nuts and bolts of the HTC First. And that's because it's Facebook Home that's the star of the show.

We did get an answer to the burning "Why!?!?!" regarding Facebook doing its own hardware. It's pretty simple, in fact, and it's something we should have thought of. While using Facebook Home on an existing device is a pretty damn good experience, there are certain low level things -- particularly regarding notifications -- that you can't do with a launcher. You need deeper hooks into the existing operating system. And, so, we have the HTC First.

The phone itself is unassuming. It's got the usual HTC curves, and a 5MP camera out front your usual "did I really just use that" front-facer out front. It's deceptively light, and and thin to boot. (OK, for the speeds and feeds folks, it's got a dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor and it's running on Android 4.1.)

But it's Facebook Home that's the real star, and for good reason. It looks good. If you don't live in Facebook -- and chances are if you're a regular reader of this blog -- you may well not have a great need for it. But on the other hand, it's still a full-fledged Android smartphone, complete with all the Google apps -- and, more important, access to Google Play -- that you're used to. That was almost certainly a necessity, and it means all of your existing applications should still work, and they're completely accessible through a normal app drawer.

We'll have deeper looks in the coming days and weeks as Facebook's HTC First comes to market. Video hands-on and more hands-on pics are after the break.

More: HTC First forum

 
There are 28 comments

mstrblueskys says:

Does it feel like it was made for a younger audience?

kpluck says:

I have a feeling the things FaceBook wants to do have less to do with notifications and more to do with data collection and monetization in regards to why they are doing their own device.

Diskoman says:

Exactly. Facebook can't get their hooks on ALL of your data as it stands right now...not without people paying attention to all of the permissions they are asking for. With their own hardware? They would get to know EVERYTHING. Thanks Facebook, but no thanks.

th3gh05t says:

You know what really grinds my gears? No ever goes into the "Home Settings". I want to see what options I can change!

Ya so try it out...lol

masterpfa says:

may appeal to some

But I'm not letting FaceBook get a hold of my phone in this way. Early days yet but seems to messy, how about just improving the Android FB app?

hodan says:

Do we have to wait for the hands on or can you tell us now what unique things the First does with Facebook Home?

jeffreytz says:

I can't get a One because HTC is wasting resources building the Facebook phone. Well I hope at least they got Zucks to pay for them up-front so HTC can stay in business. I know Facebook is ridiculously popular, but I don't think anyone's buying a phone because it has a Facebook lockscreen. Kin, anyone?

tekhna says:

So the question is, can you install a different launcher and get a relatively inexpensive midrange AOSP phone?

Good point. I cant imagine they could stop you from being able to do so. The First running something like Nova would be solid.

Hopefully you can, i think all that heavy facebook stuff might cause some lag and what not. I don't know, but I do know that I'm not interested in this at all.

Jellyfrog says:

Facebook home is JUST a launcher, so I imagine you'll be able to clear the defaults of it in the apps section of android settings :)

othercents says:

I do like the interface for those who are Facebookers that watch their feeds and interact with their feeds all the time. However to be useful to everyone adding in Twitter, Google+, and other app feeds to the home screen are a must for more advanced users. You can't just limit your feeds to one social network.

I also like the messaging heads that pop up when there are messages and SMS, but what about Skype, Tango, Viber, and any other chat application you might use. Can they integrate into this feature? If it is people centric it needs to be inclusive of all possible chat applications and be that one stop shop for all messages.

What about Twitter or Google+ people who don't want Facebook? Can they use this without having Facebook? To become the best people centric UI you really need to be agnostic. Granted this is Facebook Home and not Social Home, but if they can be agnostic then I believe this will be one of the better launchers and home screens for Android.

Lastly, where is the weather? I didn't see anything that is showing weather. This is the main reason why I look at my phone and I don't want to launch a separate application to see it.

My wife might love it since she is a Faceaholic with exception of missing the weather widget, but not sure if it is for everyone.

Other

l00natic71 says:

The feeds that you mention sound like what HTC did with BlinkFeed on the One. Or that's my understanding of it.

crester says:

Why would you expect Facebook to make a launcher that improves access to Google+ and Twitter???

mlynch01 says:

I can see Facebook heads really getting into this. It's not for me tho.

Gator352 says:

Facebook freaks are gonna love this. Pretty soon, facebook is going to be imbedded somehow into our tighty whities.

pinyin_samu says:

I find the idea not so bad, but Facebook Home and what is running on the HTC First is only a launcher like there are others in Google Play (but not yet of this kind). And to use all the features all your contacts have to be in your facebook account obviously. So, not for me, I don't like FB, it's Spambook.

I find it remarkable that for all articles you can find about the Facebook Home and Facebook Phone event are the most shared with G+ and twitter, third place is shared with Facebook itself. Strange, not?

So, I think there will not be a very big market anymore for this device as a few years ago. But that we will only see in a half year or a year how the app is used and the phone is selled.

sicembaylor says:

Was facebook/HTC short of employees that speak English as a first language? I can barely understand her. Incredibly irritating.

Derek_B says:

I'm sorry but when you say Facebook phone, this is all that comes to mind:

http://allthingsd.com/20111129/facebooks-phone-revealed/

pinyin_samu says:

Indeed, this describes in a very good way what the Facebook Phone and Facebook Home App will be in reality. Facebook will control the user, not the user will control his Facebook account.

cammykool says:

if its priced right and easily modded (HTC unlock) it would be a cool budget CM phone

pinyin_samu says:

With AT&T contract the price is $99 and without a contract the Facebook phone will be sold for around $450. The first devices will be only available by AT&T.

nikkisix798 says:

Is this their latest flagship phone? HTC still a mess....Now people will forget about their last flagship phone, HTC ONE....

crester says:

People who want the HTC One won't care about this phone. This phone is a basic phone targeted towards people who just want to use social networks.

sakasune says:

"a 5MP camera out front your usual 'did I really just use that' front-facer out front"

lol wut?

I had to read that statement several times and I still don't completely understand it.

ibbyj says:

I really really like the simplicity of this hardware.

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