The business is rolling out a platform dubbed ‘Facebook Home’ that brings Facebook content straight to an Android device’s home screen rather than having to access an app. It features an interface built around a user’s network of Facebook friends, allowing them to swipe between pictures, status updates and other important events.
Users can also interact with their friends while using other apps through Chat Heads, a service that combines Facebook messages and SMS.
Speaking at the launch event this evening (4 April) chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the move allows Android devices to be “designed around people not apps”.
He added: “Today’s phones are designed around apps, not humans, we want to turn that around. [With Facebook Home] you’ll be able to turn your android phone into a great social phone. We think this is the best version of Facebook there is.
“We’re not building a phone or an operating system but we’re also building something that’s deeper than an ordinary app.”
HTC will support the service when it launches next week (12 April) through its new HTC One device. Further deals are expected as the mobile platform is rolled out to the rest of the world in the coming months.
The platform could see the social network attempt to push monetised apps such as Zynga games moving forward as it looks to widen mobile revenue streams.
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, says Facebook’s push to become “embedded” in Android devices aims to identify new ways of tracking user data and creating more opportunities to serve up advertising.
He adds: Facebook’s objectives and users’ are once again in conflict. Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.If it does turn out to be successful, Facebook can build on the model further and increase the value provided in the application over time.
“The biggest challenge will be that it can’t replicate this experience on iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, the three other main platforms.”
The move comes as Facebook works to become what it claims is a “mobile first” business and expand its share of the mobile advertising market.