So, there is a new launcher for Android, but this time it is from Facebook. So, it cannot be just another launcher. It's Facebook Home, and there is every likelihood of it racing to the top spot as soon as it is launched.
But hold on. The roll-out will be gradual. First it will be in the US next week. It will hit other countries later on in phases. And when it is launched, not all phones will be compatible at first. HTC's One X and One, Samsung's Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4 will be among the few that will get it. If you have other "lowly" phones, you may have to wait a little more. HTC First will be the first phone to have it pre-installed.
"We're not building a phone and we're not building an operating system," says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "We're building something a whole lot deeper than an ordinary app."
Yes, it is not an "ordinary app". It is almost like a launcher. Launchers are "skins" that can be downloaded to make your phone look different than the pre-installed skins. Third party launchers provide features that are not available with the default launchers. Facebook Home will be a "launcher" app, but focused entirely on Facebook and social media.
Mark Zuckerberg says phones are designed around apps, not people, and Facebook wants to change that. The launcher will be designed around Facebook. For example, if you are watching a video or playing a game, and want to tell or discuss about it with your friends, Chatheads, a feature in Facebook Home, will enable you to to just that from the video or game itself. Cover Feed will spew out whatever your friends are posting in Facebook. This can also be seen in the lockscreen without having to swipe to open the screen. You can also like a post or comment from the screen itself.
Unlike other launchers, there will be changes in the way you get notifications. All Facebook notifications will come with your friends' profile pictures. So in a way, Facebook Home can be called a "super launcher".
Why only on Android and not on iPhone? Because Google's Android is an "open" system unlike Apple's closed iOS.
There are questions already raised on whether Facebook Home will affect Android. But it is not clear whether it really will, or if it does, how.
Now that Facebook has launched Facebook Home, what will other social media companies do? Will Twitter launch Twitter Home? It may have to do something. It can't leave the entire Android field to Facebook.