The new Facebook phone is coming. It's called "HTC First" and you can get it next week. But you don't have to have this $99 phone if all you really want is the new Facebook phone experience. A new software suite, called Facebook Home, also available next week, can turn your Android phone (only certain models for now, but all Androids and even tablets soon) into a Facebook phone.
So - should you get one?
You need a phone, aren't loyal to your Apple phone and its apps, and spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else online. From the moment you turn on a Facebook phone, you're in the world of your friends; their photos, updates, messages and lives scroll across your screen. Instead of a list of apps, the phone presents your Facebook world similar to the News Feed you see on your desktop. But now, every post takes up a full screen in your new "Cover Feed," and your interaction with that content is easy - tap to "like," easily share with other friends, add a comment. Why hunt for Facebook's messaging, News Feed, profiles, photo apps and games when you can connect with all that by simply turning on your phone?
You're already a power user of your smartphone. The Facebook Home app is built for people who are good at the swipes, flicks and taps that make the phone seem to come alive. If you relate to your phone more like a pocket-sized computer, this may not be your cup of tea.
You love to be in constant touch with friends and family. Welcome to "chat heads" - that's the new feature that keeps tiny versions of a friend's profile image floating on your phone's screen while you type messages back and forth. No more closing down your other apps for instant messaging. These floating heads are waiting for your next words. When you're done talking, flick them away.
Related: 5 Great Travel Apps for the 50+ Crowd
You're on Facebook, but it's not most of what you do online and especially with your phone. You're not one of those people who peeks at your phone 100 times a day. Or if you do, you're doing things like looking at YouTube videos, reading your email, getting directions, checking stocks or weather - all things that aren't necessarily "social" and don't require you to be on Facebook. Facebook Home is about making Facebook the equivalent to your browser's home page. Let's put this another way: If you usually like to do something else before you jump into Facebook, Facebook Home probably isn't for you.
You're not ready to hand over your online life to Facebook. Facebook already knows a lot about you. Mostly, you told them. And they found out more by tracking your activities. If you feel the jury is still out about whether Facebook is doing a good job guarding your privacy, you may want to wait on the Faecbook phone. And if you think that Facebook is starting to get choked with advertising, that's not going to get better any time soon.
You want to keep your options open. Mobile technology is changing every day. By deciding that Facebook will be your mobile home, you're not giving up the chance to use other apps. But they're betting you might never want to leave. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and a few other online behemoths are after the same loyalty. If you don't become an "early adopter" of Facebook Home, that's OK. It'll still be there if you're ready later. And you can still use Facebook on your phone the way you do now.
Also of Interest
- Your Facebook Newsfeed Is About to Change (Again)
- SXSW 2013: 5 Life Lessons from South By Southwest
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more
Thumb illustration courtesy of FindYourSearch