Facebook in bid for more mobile friends

FACEBOOK last night launched a bid to become yet more prominent on people’s mobile phones, unveiling new software that would see the social network built into handsets.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg showed off Facebook Home, a new interface for mobiles running the popular Android operating system. The design replaces the phone’s home screen with friends’ updates and photos and makes features such as Facebook’s messenger service more eminent.

Investors responded positively to the launch, sending shares up three per cent after the announcement.

Facebook Home, which follows months of speculation that the company was developing its own phone, is expected to encourage more use of the service on mobiles, a platform that has troubled Facebook due to the difficulty of placing adverts on a smaller screen.

The new software will also make Facebook more available to a new generation of users in emerging markets, where few people have PCs but Android smartphones are incredibly popular.

“Today phones are designed around apps, not people. We want to flip that around,” Zuckerberg said. “We think this is the best version of Facebook there is.”

The interface will be unique to Android when it goes live on 12 April. It is unlikely to feature on platforms such as the iPhone due to technical restrictions.