Facebook moving closer to a Facebook-powered Android phone

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Facebook moving closer to a Facebook-powered Android phone
Yesterday, Facebook sent out invitations to an event on April 4th that contained the cryptic message, "Come see our new home on Android." The rumor mill quickly jumped to the idea that Facebook was working on another phone, but the reality may be even more pervasive. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook wants to hijack new Android devices' homescreens with its News Feed.

The report makes it unclear how Facebook intends to move forward, but it shows Facebook ignoring ways to use Android's built-in tools in favor of forcing its own way. The report says that Facebook wants to display content on users' homescreens, and for this purpose it could create a better widget, or even an alternative launcher app. But instead, the report says Facebook is going for a route that requires manufacturers to allow Facebook to "tweak" Android in order "to allow the Facebook app to take over the device’s home screen". Of course, this deeper integration would have to be on specially designated handsets, and not easily added to just any device.

The New York Times has also come out with more information on the plan. Apparently, in addition to replacing your homescreen with Facebook, the camera app would also be replaced with Facebook's camera app. And, the messaging app would be replaced with Facebook's Messenger app. It's unclear if this is just a "tweak" of Android as WSJ states, or if this will be a complete fork, but we'd bet on the tweak, because Facebook can't replace all the apps on Android, especially all the apps in the Play Store. Facebook has been very careful to not run afoul of any Google requirements, so devices wouldn't have to give up Google Apps

By making Facebook the first thing you see upon unlocking your device, Facebook is aiming to get you to spend more time on the service, and more time leads to easier ways for the company to finally start making some real revenue from mobile. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that the company has plans to boost its mobile revenue, and this looks to be the first step in that plan.

This "tweak" could be relatively nothing, but it shows a trend with Facebook. Around the same time that Facebook started pushing app updates outside of the Play Store, it also announced that it had developed a method to search through Android code, and hack the Dalvik code in order to allow its behemoth app run on older handsets that had more strict memory settings. Android 3.0+ use either an 8 or 16MB buffer, but Android 2.3 and older only use a 5MB buffer, which simply wasn't enough. So, rather than paring down the massive Facebook app, the company essentially hacked older handsets to use a larger memory buffer. The hack first appeared in Facebook 2.0 for Android which was released in December, but Facebook didn't tell anyone about the hack until the beginning of March.

As with the Dalvik hack, Facebook would likely say that this method of taking over your homescreen gives users a better experience, but we're curious how difficult this "tweak" would make it for users to opt-out. And, we're also curious if this deeper integration that manufacturers have to help with could also be another factor that causes delays in manufacturers pushing Android OS updates. Although it sounds like Facebook is going to be marketing the devices specifically for this functionality, so only users that want it will get it. 

According to WSJ, only HTC has agreed to help Facebook in this quest, and it will be HTC handsets that are used to show off the new homescreen during Facebook's announcement on Monday. Facebook is still negotiating with other manufacturers to also get its app placed front and center on those devices, but no word yet on any other manufacturers who will go along with Facebook's plan. 

It seems to us that Facebook desperately wants to be able to offer its own handset, but it knows that it has no way to replace the app ecosystem that can be found on Android or iOS. So, rather than building its own devices, Facebook is working to embed itself as deeply as possible into the one platform that has the open structure to allow Facebook to get in: Android. As long as Facebook's new homescreen dreams are opt-in, or can be completely disabled pretty easily, this may be the best option for both users and Facebook. But, if Facebook digs in too deep, and doesn't give options for users to get out, this could lead to some problems. 

The roadblock with manufactures gives hope though. If Facebook has to make deals for manufactures to "tweak" Android to allow for this, that means that Facebook can't take over any device it wants. It will have to make deals with manufacturers, and will likely have to put out devices that specifically take advantage of this new Facebook-centric software. So, you may not have to worry so much about taking over your device, but rather choosing the right device when buying.

source: WSJ & NYT

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30 Comments

1. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Facebook, please "F" OFF! P.S. Sorry for rude comment. :)

6. Aeires unregistered

Don't use Facebook and don't miss it.

8. menny07

Posts: 89; Member since: Dec 13, 2012

Facebook is getting increasingly rogue. Its no wonder seeing that their first funding as a company came from the CIA, if you know what I mean... *snoop snoop*

2. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

hahaha at that point, the facebook will be removed from my phone. Tell Mark to suck his own c**k

3. amansingal14

Posts: 309; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

LOL, here where custom roms step in... Or better, stop using Facebook. Make them go bankrupt :) PS - Sorry for being rude, but if you mess with my phone, you mess with me.

4. avin007

Posts: 139; Member since: Feb 28, 2013

I want my camera app and homescreen to be hijackd by sm porn sites.......jst my wishful thinking!!!

5. KickRocks

Posts: 279; Member since: Mar 22, 2011

If this is even remotely true, even in the slightest, I mean even a hint of force on me and my android experience, I will say Goodbye Facebook and hello Google plus. Screw it, I might just start using it now because of this rumor!!

7. Daftama

Posts: 641; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Delete FB bye bye

9. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

NOT HANKS UNISTALLED FB APP now they gon too FAR. FCKING idiots. sorry bout my language but they just get me so mad.

10. Aeires unregistered

If FB tweaks out your Dalvik, I would think Google would treat that as a malicious app and force them to remove that capability or be banned. Question is though, would Google cut off FB? It's going to be interesting to see how this pans out and what FB's real plans are.

11. bxbomber718

Posts: 15; Member since: Dec 13, 2010

And just for that I will soon be uninstalling the FB app and just using it via my mobile web browser which seems to be more responsive anyway. What's interesting is I don't see them trying to attempt this same sabotage on iOS devices even on legacy ones...smh

13. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

That's because iOS is not advanced enough to let them do these things! :) You can't write widgets, you can't add things to the lockscreen or replace the launcher. In Android you can do all these things. Technically speaking, they could do an app that, upon installation: - replaces the launcher - replaces the camera app - replaces the messaging application - adds a widget to the homescreen This would be very invasive... so I suppose most users would react badly.

12. Luuthian

Posts: 332; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

This makes a lot of sense. Blink feed is already somewhat akin to a Facebook feed, so naturally HTC would be the one to extend a hand. They're probably hoping devices using the new Sense 5.0 with the Blink feed would benefit from having Facebook be the center of your home screen news. Like the article states though, I'm having trouble seeing this as a big win for Facebook...

14. naveenstuns

Posts: 184; Member since: Feb 19, 2012

I heard two days ago mark is entering POLITICS!!!!!

16. terabyteRouser

Posts: 457; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

This article is seething with anti-Facebook bias. Journalistic objectivity is a pure afterthought.

17. YaBoiDre10

Posts: 84; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

I don't want the government I mean Facebook montoring my phone. No thanks

21. threed61

Posts: 259; Member since: May 27, 2011

If you're using an Android phone, Google already monitors everything on your phone anyway, what's the difference?

23. YaBoiDre10

Posts: 84; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

ALL phones are monitoted but I don't want them having access to my home screen lol

18. gmracer1

Posts: 646; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I just threw up in my mouth.

20. Android4u

Posts: 456; Member since: Aug 16, 2012

Deleted my fb one week after creating it

28. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

i've just uninstaled mine, WTF CIA FBI GOVERMENT FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE will be able to gain access! One thing tho my buffer size is 64 MB, Rooted vis VMHeaptools and MCTweaker™

22. DeathR34PER

Posts: 21; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Man, not gonna lie, sooner or later there's going to be even more random phones that are going to be like from Twitter, Tumblr, Bing, Yahoo, etc... Kinda dumb really...just saying.

24. humaningeneral

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Google probably knew and stayed quiet.

25. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

Reading the comments here, you get the feeling that android fanboys have a hard time building human relationships outside of their computer generated online gaming worlds'.

26. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

"...have a hard time building human relationships outside of their computer..." Since when Facebook is outside of computer??? Think before making stupid statements...

27. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Human relationships need build in real life not in a Facebook!

29. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

im getting tried of facebook, but Im not a fan or twitter or tumbler. Im not a stalker nor do I want to stalk someone.

30. nanbanda

Posts: 17; Member since: Mar 30, 2013

"face puked" :)

31. gogowho

Posts: 37; Member since: Mar 12, 2013

don't need facebook

32. thachlel

Posts: 75; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

It's maybe a bad battery. I've been used Anker batteries on my samsung galaxy s, s2 s3 n note2 so far so good. They hold charges a bit better than original one.

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