The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 4, 2013 | 3 min read

Facebook has announced new software for Android users from its event in its San Francisco headquarters, which invited people to “Come see our new home on Android” last week.

Zuckerberg began the conference by saying “We’re not building a phone, we’re not building an operating system. But we’re building more than just an app"

Facebook Home, which can be downloaded from April 12, encompasses a range of features, including Chatheads which allows users to easily switch between conversations with friends and apps.

Zuckerberg started the conference talking about Facebook Home, which was developed on the basis that a phone users will check a lock screen around 100 times a day, "seeing a clock or a snippet of an email if you're lucky."

However, Home is “the lock screen in addition to the home screen,” he explained. “You don’t have to do any swiping to see information.”

“From the Home screen you can like, comment and view updates and notifications."

This Home screen involves a small image of the user at the bottom of the screen. From here the user can swipe this icon upwards leading to a page of app downloads, making it easy to access other apps on the user’s phone.

“We wanted this to feel like system software rather than an app you install,” said Zuckerberg.

The main feature of Home is Chatheads, which allows users to easily switch between SMS and Facebook Message conversations and other apps. If you are in an app and receive a message, a thumbnail image of the sender will appear on the side of the screen. You can then tap it and go into message mode, then quickly get back to the app.

"We think that Chatheads are this great, personal way to do messaging," Zuckerberg said.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook product designer, then took to the floor to demonstrate the feature, saying that it would personalise people's phones better: "What we're trying to do is shift people's focus away from tasks and apps and toward people."

Zuckerberg announced that phone makers including Samsung, HTC, Sony, Orange and Lenovo have signed up to the Facebook Home Programme which aims to “deliver users the best experience of Home.”

The app can be downloaded from the Play store.

Zuckerberg went on to single out AT&T and HTC who have collaborated to develop a phone that already has Facebook Home on it. Peter Chou, CEO HTC, explained that the new device is called HTC First, calling it "the ultimate social phone," having Facebook Home pre-loaded and pre-optimised.

AT&T president and CEO Ralph De la Vega revealed that the HTC First will be available April 12 for $99.99, exclusively from AT&T. It can be pre-ordered from today, 4 April.

The conference ended with Facebook stating that Home would be updated once a month with new features and on more devices. It was also added that Home has not been fully developed for tablet but will be launching on tablet within months of the Android launch.

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