Why a Facebook Phone could change mobile forever

facebook phone feature 624 size 11 Why a Facebook Phone could change mobile forever
The internet is abuzz with word that the Facebook Phone will finally show itself on Thursday. While the HTC-made device itself doesn’t sound like much – with a mid-size screen and dual-core processor it won’t trouble the Samsung Galaxy S4 for pure power – the custom homescreen launcher it’ll land with could just be revolutionary. Read on to find out how Facebook in the front and centre of your Android phone will change mobile for good.

Free calls for life

Facebook needs people to keep using its services for longer, so that its adverts are worth more. One way it can do that: provide people with the option to make free phone calls over the web which don’t eat into your monthly minutes. And it’s already doing just that. The service is only available on the Facebook iPhone app for now, but with Android’s huge user base, you can bet it won’t stay that way for long – expect this feature to arrive on Thursday, or soon after.

Now, sure, yes, Skype already offers you this – but Skype’s Android app is buggy, and Microsoft’s VoIP service can’t match Facebook’s billion users for critical mass. Why sign up and create and remember another password when you can just use your Facebook login, especially when it’s placed front and centre of your phone’s screen?

Messaging that’s not just tied to your phone

Text messages are still supremely popular, but they’re also archaic. You can only send them from your phone, it’s tricky to store them permanently, and networks like to charge you a lot for the privilege of sending them. Facebook’s Messenger app for Android helps you get round that, with free messages, which you can see and resume the conversation from when you log in on a tablet or PC too – you don’t even need a Facebook account to use it. Count on a Facebook Home launcher trading out your SMS icon for a Messenger icon in your homescreen dock.

You’ll discover and use more Facebook services

Facebook provides lots of services that work on mobile, and some of them even rival Google’s services – takes it calendar, for instance, and location check-in skills. With a news feed in the front and centre of your homescreen, it could advertise these services and help people discover them in a way they never would with the social network’s current, somewhat messy, Android app. And just helping people discover services is half the battle.

Watch out Facebook: Skype adds video messaging to friends

It’s the gateway for an app store

The Android operating system is open-source, which is both a blessing and a curse for Google. On the one hand, it’s helped Android become the global hit it is today; on the other, it lets rivals like Amazon roll up, remove all of Google’s services from it and replace them with its own app store – and Facebook might just be planning the same thing.

Once a Facebook news feed hit your homescreen, it’s just a small step to an App Centre packed full of Facebook games that all work on mobile, or can even be installed – currently, the Facebook App Centre in the Android app only links through to Facebook-powered games on the Google Play store. Given that Facebook has recently started rolling out updates to the Facebook Android app outside of Google Play, that could well change.

It’s the end of the phone number

With free calls, free messages and all your friend connections stored in the cloud, Facebook could pull off a feat nobody else has done in more than a century: getting rid of the phone number.

Think about it. Facebook is already the place to go when you lose your phone and have to ask for all your mates’ numbers again. What if you could log into a new phone with Facebook, and have all your contacts appear – you’d never need numbers again, just the names of the people you want to speak to. A homescreen that priorities Facebook calls, contacts and messages over regular mobile ones could do just that – and change how you use a mobile for ever.

Kindle Phone incoming: Would you buy an Android phone without Google?

Image via Flickr
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