Ah, Google Glass. Though the venerable headset has a lot of potential, it has yet to become something people want to use all the time. If you're a social media addict, a news junkie, or a productivity pro, though, Google's heads-up computer just got a lot more compelling. Today at I/O, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, CNN, Elle, and Evernote pledged to support Glass by releasing official applications - "glassware," as Google calls them.
Newly appointed head of Google's Android division Sundar Pichai - who perhaps not-so-incidentally also leads the Chrome OS team - recently sat down with Wired for his first interview since Andy Rubin's departure. Though he didn't speak to specifics about any mysterious Motorola smartphone or Chromebook Pixel follow-up, Pichai did shed some light on the state of Android, Google's open-source philosophy, and future projects.
When asked if separate operating systems - Chrome OS and Android, for instance - confuse users, Pichai said the OS is less important than the apps, ecosystem, and backend people rely on.
Facebook phone. Those two words in that order have been repeated over and over again for the last couple of years, simply as rumors for the longest time. Then the HTC Status hit the scene with an integrated Facebook button – still, Zuckerberg himself claimed that it wasn't Facebook's phone.
Many months later, the rumor mill started whirring once again about an alleged phone designed just for Facebook. This time, for some reason, the rumors held more water.
When most of us think about Facebook, open source software probably isn't the first thing that jumps to mind. As it turns out, the social media titan has quite a few public contributions that we rarely hear about. Since Facebook went native, Android development has become a high priority within the company.
Shortly before the Facebook Home launch, some users noticed a new version of Facebook was available on their device, but it wasn't through the Play Store. Instead, the update came directly through the app, bypassing the Store altogether. Naturally, there was outrage, people were angry, felt violated, and whatnot. For Facebook, however, this was a way of getting a beta version of its app out to some users without having to give it to all users.
Facebook has been on a real push to take over users' phones as of late, with Facebook Home, Chat Heads, and updates to its official and Messenger apps. Today, it goes a step further, offering full, free voice calls to US users. This is the same feature that rolled out to Canadian users late last month.
The service requires Facebook Messenger to be installed (naturally) – to initiate a call, simply head into your contact list, open a message, and hit the "I" in the top-right corner.
Facebook did a soft launch of its new Home launcher late last week, which left a lot of its international users out in the cold. Good news: if you've been dying to get your hands on Home, it's now available outside of the US. Of course, device restrictions still apply, as the app is only available on a handful of handsets right now:
- HTC One X
- HTC One X+
- HTC One
- Samsung Galaxy S III
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- Samsung Galaxy S 4
And if you like what it has to offer but aren't necessarily sold on using it full time, there's an easy way to keep all of Home's functionality without sacrificing your existing launcher.
When I went hands-on with Facebook's new launcher a few days ago, I stepped away pleased with the overall experience, but felt that it lacked a lot of the features a power user (or even a regular user who does stuff) would like. Still, I found the "lock screen" functionality to be a very pleasant experience – turning my phone on to nothing more than a scrolling photo and the time is very minimal and relaxing.
Facebook Home has arrived, and whether we like it or not, it's here to stay. The 2.5/5.0 rating at the close of the day isn't exactly inspiring, but it's likely a knee-jerk reaction from Facebook haters, which I am confident will go up to somewhere in the 3.X range with further improvements. Cameron addressed the current state of Home pretty well earlier today, so now that the dust has settled, it's time for a fun video to finish off the work week, both for Facebook employees who worked on the product and us, its potential (but unlikely) users.