Good morning, Internet! We’re live from Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, where the company is expected to finally detail the bordering-on-mythical Facebook Phone. Will it be just one phone? Will it be software to turn many Android phones into the Facebook Phone? We’re here to find out!
The event is scheduled to start at 10 A.M Pacific, and our live blog (below) should start shortly before then. Tune in then for all of the up-to-the-very-second details
And that’s all, folks! We’re off to go shoot a demo. Thanks for tuning in!
Q: So just to clarify — we won’t see ads in coverfeed at first, but then we MIGHT later?
A: [pause] … Yep! [audience laughs]
Q: Just to clarify — is this available to ALL Android users on april 12th? And when will it be available to other OEMs?
A: US only initially, on devices running ICS or Jellybean.
Cory: Well — 3 specific devices.
Zuck: Well, and their varations. HTC One, One X, Samsung Galaxy S3, Note 2, and the S4 when it’s launched.
Q: You announced a few partners, but those were mostly carrier and hardware OEMs. How open will this be to other developers? Might we see something like… Twitter, integrated into this?
Zuck: We’d love that, in the future. But right now, we wanted to focus on the things WE seeing people sharing most. Pictures, status updates — that’s 70/80% of the content on Facebook.
There’s a lot of content out there that people want to see — pinterest feeds, instagram feeds. We’d love to see that. We’re not going to update this once a year. Updates, new features, will come once a month.
Q: “Will this support Android folders and widgets? Can we disable chat heads?”
A: There are a ton of settings. You can decide whether you want it to be a homescreen, a lockscreen, or both. If you don’t want the lockscreen, you can. Folders and widgets won’t be supported at launch.
“Does this put Facebook in more direct competition with Google? Does this help Facebook deal with the pressure to monetize?”
Zuck: I think this is actually really GOOD for Android. From what I’ve seen, most developers put most of their time into iOS, even though their are more Androids out there.
In a way, this can start to bring some of the high quality experiences that you’re used to on iOS to Android
“What happens to if Google changes something so that you can’t build this anymore? Do you fork Android?”
“The features that we use here aren’t just basic features, things that could be easily papered over. It doesn’t seem like Google will change their commitment to openness. They could — but it’d be strange, and it’d be difficult’
You mention that it’ll launch “First” on Android. Is it coming to iOS?
“We have a great relationship with Apple. We have integration into iOS, we’ve worked with them before. With Apple, everything you want to do goes through them. With Android, it doesn’t have to. [Google is aware of what we're doing, we've work with them a bit on it, but we got to build this because we wanted to.]“
“With Home installed, is there any more data that you’re collecting from what people are doing on their phones?”
Zuck: I’m not the best one to go into this, but there’s basic analytics in there just so we can refine the user experience
Adam: Yeah. We collect basic analytics data, but we anonymize it quickly. It’s the same sort of stuff that everyone collects.
“Do you ever think about presence? How when you’re out at dinner with your wife, and you get a message, it distracts you from whoever you’re with?”
“Yeah. That comes up a lot. Whether or not communicating online disconnects you from people offline. [...]. I think that’s overblown. There’s this idea; technology is a tool. Glasses augment your vision, your reality. Steve Jobs said that computers augment your mind. With Facebook and other tools, you can stay connected and get more context from more people.
People often think of staying connected as frivolous — it’s not. It’s powerful.”
Q: Can you address this idea that highschool students, youngsters, are turning away from Facebook? How does FB Home help that?
Mark: Actually, the overall engagement we’re seeing is quite good.
regarding Home, If you look at the app Facebook, we see people going in 10, 12 times a day. If you look at the lockscreen, you see people going to it 100x a day.
Mark: One of the things youre going to feel.. this is a really high quality experience. We went through a lot of pains to make that possible. Anyone who’s built a platform before, you know you want to do that with a big partner. We want this to be available on as many devices as possible — but working with AT&T/HTC on this has been hugely helpful.
Josh: What can of optimizations will be done by HTC to make this work?
FB: “I think its primarily the initial process. With other Android phones, you’ll need to have Facebook, and messenger, already installed. With the HTC First, it’s already all set up”
“What’s the situation on search? Will that be coming from Google, or bing, or…?”
Mark: It’s an Android Phone. You can use whatever you want
“We look forward to being a part of that, and sharing it with you as we do it. Thanks!”
“I grew up with the Internet. I can’t imagine a world without sharing, and messaging — but really, only 1/3 of the world is on the Internet. But this is just the beginning. In 5, or 10 years, the people coming online will be people who have never seen a computer, have never seen the Internet. We’re defining, right now, what they’ll see.”
“With Home, by putting people first — then apps — just flipping the order, it’s one of those small but very meaningful changes in the way we interact with technology”
“At a deep level, I think this can be a change in the way we interact with computing devices. So far, computing devices have been about tasks. They’ve had to be, they’ve been too big and clunky for anything else”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing this run on ATT. I’m also excited to see it running in Europe on EE and Orange in the next few months.”
Mark comes back to the stage.
Ralph: “Actually, you can pre-order it today”
It’ll be an AT&T exclusive
HTC First will be available on April 12th for $99.99
“It is, as you’d expect, an LTE device. It rides on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, which is the fastest LTE network in the country. Don’t believe me? Go look at [some test by rootmetrics]“
“When Mark came to me, I was beyond excited. We’ve been right there since the very beginning. I remember the first few days, he said: who do we get to work with us on this? Which OEM? There was only one name: Peter, and HTC. We brought Peter in, and that lead to the HTC First, which we’re very, very proud to sponsor.
This is the greatest Facebook experience ever, on a device that’s designed to make it as great as possible. Think of the HTC First as a canvas for Facebook Home. It’s not meant to be, you know, THE big phone. It’s meant to feel great.”
AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega has taken the stage
“We’re also excited to announce that the HTC first will come in four colors: red, baby blue, white, and black”
“The HTC first is the ultimate social phone. It combines the new Facebook Home with great HTC design”
“Today, I’m proud to introduce the HTC First”
Peter: Mobile is.. fundamentally social. It’s all about connecting with other people. Meanwhile, social is increasingly mobile.
But their launch partner, as expected, is HTC. Peter Chou of HTC takes the stage
“Even before we announced Home, a ton of partners were signing on.”
He shows a photo listing some partners; amongst them: HTC, Samsung
“That’s why we created the Facebook Home Program. It’s a set of guidelines for putting Facebook on devices.”
“But phone makers come to us all the time to ask how they can put Facebook on their phones”
Yep — the first builds of Facebook Home will be available on April 12th
I think it’s supposed to be showing all the crazy stories he’s bringing into his world, right from Home.
This video is surreal as hell. There’s a guy on a plane. People are stuffed into the overhead compartments. Someone just popped out of a cake. A kid with chocolate cake all of his face just yelled “I ATE ALL THE CAKE!”.
“Now we want to show you a fun little video, demonstrating Home”
“We’re really excited about Home… We think this is the best version of Facebook there is. None of this would be possible without all of the activity and sharing that this amazing community does, all day long. I want to take a moment to thank all of you, and all of you watching at home, for making this possible.”
Zuck comes back on stage.
Cory dives into just how focused Facebook is on Mobile. “With Home, we don’t want it to just be mobile first. We want it to be mobile best“
“If you’re going to build a really immersive experience on Android, this is how you do it. [With a launcher.]“
“There’s been a lot of speculation on how we’ll build this. Are we going to build Facebook OS? Are we going to FORK ANDROID? No. Thats not the right way to do this.”
Updates to home will come every month. New features, it’ll work on more devices, and “it’ll be better. Just like everything we do on mobile.”
This’ll be on phones only at first. Not for tablets yet.
Once you’ve installed the app, you have the chance to either run it just once (so you can play with it), or to set it more permanently.
“If you’ve already got the latest version of Facebook, just open it up. There it is — just tap the install button”
Cory Ondrejka, Director of Mobile Engineering takes the stage. “Now you’re probably wondering: How do I get it?”
Joey taps and holds one of the chatheads; they all zoom together, and he swipes them away to clear his screen and focus on his app
A group message comes in; the chat head floating in the upper right shows the faces of each person in the thread, stuffed into one bubble,
Another message comes in — another head pops up accordingly. He’s switching back and forth between conversations, then dropping back down into the application he was using before. It’s actually kind of beautiful.
He taps the head; a chat window expands out of it. Joey responds inline, then minimizes the window with a swipe
A message comes in. The face of the friend who sent it pops up in the upper right. It’s floating above the browser window Joey had open before the message came in. He switches apps, the floating head stays there.
“You should be able to talk to your friends no matter where you’re at in your phone. Friends shouldnt be siloed off into some app. This is exactly what we wanted to fix with Chat Heads.”
“We’ve all had this experience where we’re watching a video, or writing, or whatever. You have to make this choice: Do I completely switch away from what I’m doing, or just ignore my friend? Both of those are bad experiences.”
“First, I wanna talk a little about the state of messaging on phones today”
Joey Flynn, Home’s Product Designer has taken the stage to talk about Chat heads
Swiping up from the bottom of the screen brings up the app launcher. The main page is your bookmarked apps, with quick tap buttons for Facebook status updates and photo uploads. If you want to see your full list of apps, just swipe to the left.
Notifications (Status updates, messages, etc) will pop up in a list on your lockscreen. Individual notifications can be swiped away. Want to get rid of all of them? Just hold any item, and they’ll automatically collect into a pile to be swiped away.
Down in the bottom left are “Like” and “Comment” icons. Tapping the comment icon opens that item’s comments, still without leaving the lockscreen.
Double tapping a story — again, still on the lockscreen — likes that photo/update.
Adam swipes through photos, stories, and status updates on Coverfeed. He’s yet to actually unlock the phone — this is all on the lock screen.
“As soon as you turn on home, this is what you see”
It shows the lock screen, “Coverfeed”. It coincidentally shows a picture from this actual event.
“I get the ..erm.. pleasure, of walking you through a live demo of this. Live demoes are scary, so please bear with any hiccups.”
Adam Mosseri, Director of Product has taken the stage.
This feature is called “Chat heads”. They can be dragged around the screen, and tossed away from the screen as soon as you’re done. They essentially put any on-going chats one tap away, but then disappear as soon as you’re done with them.
Messaging: Alerts will pop up over any application. Tapping one expands the bubble out into a chat window, directly above the current running app
At the bottom of the lockscreen is a picture of your face; swipe it up, and it’ll show all of your apps. Swipe away, and it’s gone.
If a friend messages you, it’ll show you her message along with her name and face, right on the lock screen You can tap on a message to launch into it, or swipe it away to clear your lock screen.
“Some messages are more important than others. If your phone is designed around people, your notifications should be too.”
It’ll show your messages, photos, recent stories. These are all on your homescreen; You don’t need to open the app to see these.
“This is Home. When you turn on your phone, this is what you’ll see…”
“Today, we’re going to talk about a new category of experiences. The homescreen of your phone. The homescreen is really the soul of your phone. It sets the tone for the whole experience.”
“You don’t need to fork android to do this.”
“The great thing about Android is that it’s just SO open. You can improve almost any part of the system. You can have apps that send and receive SMS, that can be your camera, that can be your keyboard.. or that can even be your homescreen”
Mark covers the history of the news feed, how it used to be essentially a list of apps, but is now for of an all-aggregating home.
“We want to bring the experience of having a home, of having everything you need right around you… to your phone.”
“But why do we need to go into all those apps in the first place? That’s because today, our phones are designed around apps. Not people. We want to flip that around”
“A lot of the time, we do need to do tasks. The old model is great for that. But more and more, we just want to know what’s going on with the people around us.”
“Computers have been designed around apps and tasks for years. Computers used to be these expensive, clunky, not very fun-to-use devices.”
Mark covers just how much time we spend with our phones. “We asked ourselves — if we’re already spending this much time on our phones, how can we make it easier? What if they were designed around people first, and you could also just happen to interact with apps?”
“More accurately, we’re gonna talk about how you can turn your phone into a Facebook Phone.”
Zuck takes the stage. “Today we’re finally gonna talk about that Facebook phone.
Lights go down… room goes silent.. cameras go up.. aaannd.. music comes back up.
Lights are down. Here we go!
Some big names spotted in crowd here: David Karp, Edward Zuckerberg (Mark’s dad.)
It’s showtime! “Ladies and gentleman, we’ll be starting shortly. Please take your seats”
Whispers of an April 12th launch date for Facebook Home have just started spreadin’ through the crowd. Not sure how solid that is, since we’re still waitin’ for the show to begin.
It’s 10:02, but the event hasn’t started quite yet. Don’t worry, we’re still here!
Facebook’s motivational poster wall, spotted by Josh Constine on the way in:
Remember that politeness I mentioned a second ago? That lasted about 20 seconds. Then the doors opened and people realized there wasn’t a whole lot of optimal seating.
Anyway — I just grabbed a pretty solid seat. The announcement should start in about 10 minutes.
Everyone in this line is shockingly calm and polite compared to before, say, an Apple event. Usually I’m getting elbowed in the side every thirty seconds. Here, everyone is saying “please” and “excuse me”. What planet am I on?
We’re just millin’ about for now, waiting for the doors to open up.
(I *did*, however, just nail myself in the face with my badge. I didn’t realize it was on one of those stretchy, wind-up fobs. It was stuck under my backpack. I pulled, it stretched, it came free, I got nailed in the face. GOOD START, GREG.)
And we’re in! And by that I mean we’re… indoors in a slightly shorter line, now with badge in hand.
Seems like it’s working! The event is scheduled to begin at 10 am, so be sure to tune in then.
We’ll have photos and commentary from the scene leading up to the actual announcement, so feel free to hang out in the mean time.
Boopbeepboop. Is this thing on?