Reviews

Brace yourself: the Facebook Phone takeover is here

facebookOn Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally let everyone out of the dark. After months of speculation, rumors and heavy-handed hints about a possible Facebook Phone that would ‘rule them all’ (very Lord-of-the-Rings-like), he managed to leave everyone frustrated and slighty bemused.

The final unveiling, an app that would transform any Android OS phone into a ‘Facebook phone’, might have been a disappointment for many after the hype, but it might be the most intelligent move possible for Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

If they had tried to bring out a new gadget with the associated operating system, the production demands and the massive market competition might have sunk them before they even set foot in the stores. After the recent launch of Facebook Graph, a search engine that promises to compete with Google, the rumors of a new gadget sounded like Facebook was biting off more than it could chew.

Facebook might have noted their own dependence on operating systems with their mobile users (and that they would be making some powerful competitors by launching into mobile phone construction territory). An app to transform the operating system to their advantage made a lot more sense. Is it exciting? Not as much as a new smartphone, but the implications should send a shudder through Facebook-haters everywhere, because in strategy, they might have hit the jackpot.

How does ‘Facebook Phone’ work?

The social platform minds worked alongside HTC on this project that (unlike the unfortunate ‘Facebook shortcut buttons’ on handsets, which sold badly), looks set to reach many users in the Android operating system.

Facebook hasn’t come up with a new main home screen to take over devices upon installation; instead it created Facebook Home within the new HTC First, a 4.1 Android OS device which will be released this month in the US and later this year around the world. Although HTC’s new gadget is particularly similar to those of the HTC One and proves to be quite bland, it shows that the new application can adapt to different devices that use the Android OS without any issues. The device also has predetermined apps like Instagram and Chatheads, the new Facebook messaging IM system, at users’ disposal.

As soon as you kick-start the Facebook homepage, the social platform news feed is unveiled in an attractive and easy to use display. The convenience is that Facebook works in the background, notifying uses of news, messages and allowing you to share photos, your location and status updates directly.  It controls your lock screen and also has control over the phone system and WiFi settings, to avoid the need to switch between apps.

Divide and conquer

Facebook’s tactic has been to please everyone. For Facebook users, the convenience of a unified system and easy updates will make their connected lives easier. Advertisers will be delighted if they continue to please with mobile phone advertising, capable of reaching more phone users than ever. Mobile phone makers won’t have to choose sides (for or against Facebook). If their strategy works, it might be translated to other OS and makers might decide to transform their phones into predetermined Facebook-installed gadgets.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

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Reviews

Facebook’s Great Plans for 2012

Facebook is planning to be a Public Listing Company next Wednesday, according to BBC reports. The planned $10 billion share offering estimation  would make Facebook one of the biggest market capitalization companies in existence.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16779779)

The company is enjoying profitable gains in spite of rising competition from other social media sites. In 2011, Facebook  introduced changes in the newsfeed, design and interface that is available to users online. Timelines  and design insideOver 50% of users are worried about the timeline @DigitalTrends the newsfeed changed so that people could see “highlighted news” in different order than what was posted. This was slightly confusing as you could see something that “Jessie” posted 3 hours ago next to something “Paul” posted 5 minutes ago.

Most of those changes (that met with great protest at the time) are now mainly forgotten. By the 5th of February, Zuckerberg’s team is planning to introduce a new design, this time within the profile, which will allow the user to make their own “banner” and create their own “timeline”.  Small boxes appear on either side of the screen and while you scroll, you can take a look at the different things that have been posted on your profile. Until the official launching, people can keep their “timeline” private and learn how to use it.

The new format will allow more apps to be developed for Facebook, in order to allow users to share news that they have read, photos that they have seen, locations and activity can be put onto their timeline. Facebook currently has gaming, music and news apps that allow you to share what you’re listening to or reading with your friends.

The company currently allows any organization or person make apps on facebook, saying “Your app can integrate with many aspects of Facebook.com, including the News Feed and Notifications. All of the core Facebook Platform technologies, such as Social Plugins, the Graph API and Platform Dialogs are available to Apps on Facebook.” (see link: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/guides/canvas/). The apps themselves can target any demographic; age group, sex, interests, and will appeal to them through app buttons in their newsfeeds.

How protected will users be if their data makes them a target audience for apps that can be made by virtually anyone?

“In a clickjacking, users are presented with some kind of enticing material, such as a too-good-to-be-true promotion. The clickjackers add code to these links that hide the “like” button in the link itself. Once a user clicks the clickjacking link, it’s too late — the material’s already been “liked” and shared to the user’s entire social network.” says Alex Fitzpatrick on the subject.   (http://mashable.com/2012/01/28/facebook-clickjacking-spam/)

Clickjacking has proved to be such a problem for Facebook that the company has decided to install a Web of Trust (WOT) in order to guarantee the authenticity of the apps that are submitted to the site. If, by chance the user clicks on a link that could contain spam or malware, a pop-up notice will appear informing the user that the link might be dangerous. It is the users’ decision whether they want to continue on to the link or whether they prefer to go back to the previous page. This new security feature is dependent on safety information provided by users.

More information about  security on facebook click on the following link:  http://developers.facebook.com/docs/ApplicationSecurity/

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