Facebook Set To Launch HTC-Built Smartphone

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Facebook is expected to show its ‘new home on Android’ in the form of a HTC smartphone set for launch this week

Facebook has invited members of the media to a 4 April event at its Menlo Park, California headquarters, and the invitation asks recipients to “Come see our new home on Android”.

Though Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that “building out a whole phone” doesn’t make sense for the social media company, it’s expected that the details Facebook doesn’t care to deal with will be left to smartphone maker HTC.

Deep integration

Sources have told TechCrunch to expect a modified version of the Google’s Android OS with “deep native Facebook functionality on the home screen that may live on an HTC handset”. Tech Crunch says it’s also been told that an HTC phone could run a Facebook “flavour” of Android. Or people should think of it as a Facebook “application layer” over Android.

HTC-ProductDetail-Overview-Container1-01-bgSupporting the idea that Facebook’s “new home” will be on an HTC phone are reports that the pair are working on a marketing campaign. According to people familiar with the campaign, “The advertisements are designed to focus on the potential user of the device, not on the hardware or software,” 9to5Google reported on 28 March.

“As a nod to this phone being a much-expanded version of the Facebook application found on iOS and standard Android devices, one of the tag-lines for the device is ‘more than just an app.'”

Facebook and HTC have teamed up before, but never successfully. In 2011 they introduced the unfortunately named HTC Salsa, which featured a dedicated Facebook button, and the text messaging-focused ChaCha, which also included a Facebook button (below its QWERTY display) and sounded like it should come with a basket of tortilla chips.

Earlier this month, Unwired/View got a hold of what it said are the specs of an HTC-Facebook phone. Code-named Myst, it features a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 320 pixels per inch (ppi). This is just shy of the 208 ppi on the iPhone 5, but a marked drop from the 468 ppi on HTC’s upcoming flagship, the HTC One.

Voice messaging

The Myst is also said to run a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, include 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, support Long Term Evolution (LTE) and High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and feature 5- and 1.6-megapixel cameras.

“We’re expecting Myst to arrive Stateside… sometime this spring,” said the report. “Naturally, the Android Jelly Bean-powered slate will ship with a full complement of FB software pre-loaded, such as a new version of the Facebook app, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, among others.”

Facebook recently added voice calling to Messenger, making that a likely component of the phone, as well as a Poke app that lets users send Facebook messages that have a limited time. Users are “poked” to alert them to read it ASAP.

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Originally published on eWeek.