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Facebook Announces Its $99 Smartphone, Shows Off ‘Facebook Home’ For Android

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In a presentation given earlier today at Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new smartphone in collaboration with HTC called ‘First’, that runs on AT&T’s network and will be released on April 12th for $99 (via The Verge). The company also showed off its new ‘Facebook Home’ app for Android, that puts feeds from the social network on the home page of Android phones.

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HTC’s First will come with the new Facebook Home out of the box, offering a superior Facebook experience. According to the AT&T CEO, First offers the most immersive Facebook engagement ever seen. The smartphone will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and will have a deeper integration for system notifications than the version of Facebook Home available for download on other Android devices.

The First will come in four colors: red, light blue, white, and black. It has a very minimal design, and is said to “not be huge” thanks to its 4.3-inch display. Below the display are three capacitive buttons, and the overall shape is a generic rounded rectangle with cameras on the front and back. It is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, making it one of the first phones on the market with this chip. The First supports AT&T’s 4G LTE network and will be available April 12th for $99.99.

Zuckerberg added that Facebook Home app is “the best version of Facebook there is”. The software will act like a “wrapper” for the Android operating system and become the main way to use a phone. Notifications, images and messages will appear on the main screen of the phone instead of being accessible via a downloadable app.

Zuckerberg reiterated why the company is focused on the software rather than a single phone. Zuckerberg said that a great phone might sell 10 million or 20 million units–one percent of Facebook’s total user base.

“We’re not building a phone and we’re not building an operating system but we are also building something that is a lot more… than an ordinary app,” he said.

Facebook Home will be available via Google’s Play Store as a download from 12 April on five phones, two from HTC and three from Samsung.

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