Monday, October 3, 2011

Facebook Phone Looming

Is there a week that goes by that Facebook doesn’t announce it has somehow found a way to improve and/or expand their ever-growing empire?

They have their own money (Facebook credits), they stream live concerts (Widespread Panic was the litmus test), and they even make deals with the devil (GagaVille cruelly sucked hours of my life!). And that’s just in the past couple of months. Now it seems they are keen to enter the mobile marketplace.

Although you’re probably thinking that Facebook apps have been available for smart phones and tablets for a while now, you haven’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen the Facebook phone.

Okay, so Facebook has not made their own proprietary hardware (yet). And they haven’t even followed Google in creating a unique OS for wireless carriers (yet). What they have done is hook up with phone manufacturer HTC to launch a phone, aptly named the “Status” (but dubbed the Facebook phone) that will allow users to more fully integrate their mobile experience with the world of their favorite social networking site.

So here’s the deal. Anyone familiar with the HTC Chacha will certainly recognize the handset, which has been repurposed for launch on the AT&T network as the Status. The 2.6 inch touchscreen, 480×320 screen resolution, 5-megapixel camera (including front-facing cam), and 512 megabytes of RAM are nothing new. However, the latest version of this hardware will run on Android’s updated Gingerbread 2.3 OS, complete with the HTC Sense Overlay (so that users seeking the feel of HTC will not be disappointed).

But there’s more. At this point you might be starting to wonder what it is about this product that caused it to be labeled as the Facebook phone – so far there has been no hint of collaboration on either the hardware or software front. But in fact, the user will see a marked difference in their experience when using Facebook via their handset. It starts with a Facebook button on your home page. I know what you’re thinking: all you have to do is download the Facebook app to get that on any other phone. But that’s where you’re wrong. This phone is special.

The Facebook button allows for instant connectivity to your account – just push it and you’re there. No waiting for loading, log-ins, or any other delays. This means instant updates to your status, your wall, your likes, or the locator, along with instant posting of photos, video, music, and more. So it’s faster and easier than other apps, for one thing. But it also has a feature known as contextual awareness.

It’s a little bit Big Brother, but your phone can sense when you’re doing something Facebook related (taking photos, listening to music) and it will prompt you to share with your Facebook friends by illuminating the Facebook button.

Creepy or totally cool? You’ll have to decide on that score. But if you’re a huge fan of Facebook and you spend the majority of your waking hours checking in with friends and doing updates, then perhaps this phone is right up your alley. And it can be yours as soon as July 17th.

Sarah Danielson writes for Free Government Cell Phones where you can browse through various providers, checkout ratings and reviews, and find out more about free cell phone service .

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