The long-rumored Facebook phone might be real after all. This coming Thursday, Facebook will hold a press event where it's expected to announce a smartphone running a forked version of Android--one built entirely around the social network's suite of apps and services. The gang over at Android Police reportedly found a leaked version of this mysterious new Facebook OS, and have taken it apart in the hopes of uncovering its secrets.
One of the bigger items divulged in Android Police's search was a build.prop file that seems to indicate that the ROM is meant to run on a mid-range HTC phone. The mystery device bears the model name "Myst" and features a dual-core processor along with a 5-megapixel camera. The phone runs Android 4.1.2; AT&T is listed as the carrier.
As the team dug deeper into the ROM's code, even more information came to light. The traditional HTC home screen app is missing, replaced by a custom Facebook application that features something called, "Facebook Home." Unfortunately the Android Police team was not able to log into Facebook to try out Facebook Home, though it found a number of icons that suggest the app drawer and Google search are still present. A set of permissions also seem to point to the idea that Facebook Home will be released in the Google Play Store and won't remain exclusive to whatever device Facebook unveils Thursday morning.
If the build.prop file holds true, the phone might be a tough sell to anyone but the most dedicated Facebook users. The reported specs are comparable to the BlackBerry Z10, and the phone doesn't seem to offer anything in terms of hardware that helps it stand out from the current crop of Android and Windows Phones.
It also remains to be seen whether we really need a dedicated Facebook phone. The social networking giant's official apps are available on pretty much everything with a processor, and Facebook's basic services are embedded in BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8. Facebook Home could have some services not featured in the main Facebook app, but it's highly doubtful that they will be enough to make people choose Facebook's device over something from Samsung or Apple. Making it easier to post my photos to Facebook won't sway me from buying the latest iPhone.
That said, we'll just have to wait until later this week to see what tricks Facebook has up its sleeve and what other features this mystery phone brings to the table.