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Facebook Home app suite and launcher for Android now official

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Facebook has revealed its brand new skin for the Android operating system, Facebook Home, which will be available to download from the Google Play Store next week for those with compatible handsets.

Rather than launching a Facebook specific version of Android, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a suit that gives Android users the opportunity to turn their device into a Facebook themed piece of kit.

"We're finally going to talk about that Facebook phone," Mark Zuckerberg teased in beginning the event. "Or more accurately we're going to talk about how you can turn your Android into a great social device. We're not building a phone and we're not building an operating system."

Facebook Home, which arrives on April 12, places the key elements of the social networks service at the front and centre of the Android experience. It brings together all Facebook-friendly apps like the standalone Android app, Messenger, Camera and Instagram.

Phones with Facebook Home installed will see their lock screen replaced with the new Coverfeed. It's the key feature of the new Android skin and is also what users will see when they first switch on their phones.

Basically, it's a photo-based overlay that continually refreshes with your friends status updates, new Instagram photos and check ins, on which you can like or comment directly from the lock screen. It also features friends' Cover Photos on a continuous carousel.

Notifications come straight to the home screen and, once they have been viewed, can easily be dispensed. Everything appears in real time.

There's also a new Chatheads UI that allows users to send IMs and SMS messages without leaving the activity they're currently performing. If a user is editing a photo via Instagram, for example, the Chathead notification, featuring your Facebook pal's profile picture will pop up and you can respond in line.

The Facebook Home suite also features an app launcher that showcases some non Facebook-centric essential apps like Google Maps, Spotify, Dropbox, Chrome and more. Users can customise that experience, while they can also post status updates, photos and check ins directly from the launcher.

You can see some examples of the functionality in the brief clips below.







Presently Home will work on the new HTC First phone, announced at the media event today, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 2 and also the HTC One X, HTC One and HTC One X .

The company announced that Sony, HTC and Samsung are all signed onto the Facebook Home program, which will aim to get the software into the hands of consumers sooner rather than later.

The ecosystem is also coming to Android tablets in the next several months, so it'll be interesting to see the likes of the Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Note 8.9 and Sony Xperia Tablet Z rocking the new Facebook Home skin.

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