Is Facebook finally ready to launch that social-heavy Android fork we’ve all been waiting for? Or is the company simply planning to release an expanded app or home screen widget? Either could be the case, or it could be something entirely different. Earlier today, Facebook sent out press invites for an event taking place on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10am PST.
The headline at the top of the invitation reads, “Come See Our New Home on Android.”
It has been rumored for years that Facebook planned to release a smartphone of its own — one tightly integrated with the Facebook website. Some reports say that Facebook had wanted to fork Android completely and build out a completely independent OS, but due to key team members leaving the company, the goals for that project had to be stepped back significantly. That isn’t a confirmed fact from Facebook, though, so we’re not going to rule it out just yet.
There’s another interpretation for the mention of “Home” on the invitation, and that one suggests that Facebook might be releasing some kind of home screen widget or modification that still keeps a phone largely stock Android, but brings a new Facebook experience to the home screen and, perhaps, to other areas of the phone that the company’s app currently doesn’t reach.
Whatever Facebook’s approach may be, it’s looking more and more certain that this new Android fork/feature will arrive first on an HTC device. According to 9to5Google, Facebook and HTC are working together on a joint advertising campaign to demonstrate the capabilities of the phone (and not the hardware or software).
This isn’t the first time Facebook and HTC hooked up to try and create a “Facebook phone.” HTC built and released a phone called the Status in 2011. There was a dedicated Facebook “F” button at the bottom of the device but not a whole lot of Facebook integration outside of that.
We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes and ears open for more information as we get closer to the April 4 event. And, of course, we’ll be covering it live here. Until then, leave us your thoughts. Would you buy a Facebook phone over an iPhone or straight Android device?