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HTC Corp. lifts lid on Facebook-ready phone

TAIPEI--Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. and Facebook Inc. unveiled a phone in the United States Thursday equipped with the social networking site's new software for Android gadgets.

The HTC First, which will run the new software called Facebook Home, will be sold exclusively in the U.S. via American telecom carrier AT&T Inc., an HTC spokesman said.

At the moment, the company has no plans to sell the Facebook ready phone in Taiwan or elsewhere outside the U.S., the spokesman added.

HTC CEO Peter Chou joined Facebook co founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega at the unveiling ceremony for the new software and phone at Facebook's Melo Park, California headquarters Thursday.

The new software, which will work on phones powered by Google's Android system, does not try to replace Android but serves as a launcher that boots when the phone boots and can customize the home screen, add apps and perform other tasks on Android devices.

Zuckerberg said at the ceremony that Facebook Home will turn regular mobile phones into always-connected Facebook devices.

“Today our phones are designed around apps, not people, and we want to flip that around,” Zuckerberg was quoted as saying by the London-based newspaper The Independent.

Citing Zuckerberg, the paper said the Facebook Home software, once installed in Android-powered phones, will put Facebook at the center of the user experience.

Phone users will no longer have to click through a Facebook app to keep up with their social network. Instead, phones with the Home software will automatically reset to display updates to Facebook profiles and newsfeeds on the home screen, the paper said.

The Facebook Home software will only be initially available through the HTC First.

“It is the only phone that has Facebook Home preloaded and optimized,” HTC's Chou was quoted as saying at the debut event.

“Mobile is fundamentally social; it is all about connecting with other people,” Chou said. “This is a great opportunity to bring mobile and social together even closer.”

The HTC First boasts a thin, light and sleek design, with black, white, red and pale blue color options.

It features a 4.3-inch display, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system and Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor.

HTC executives said in Taipei that the phone is a higher-end and more Facebook-ready device than the HTC Salsa launched in 2011.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California on Thursday, April 4. Zuckerberg announced a new product for Android called Facebook Home.

(AFP)

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