By: Elise Ackerman
Following Facebook’s Thursday announcement of the Facebook Home software, I reached out to Facebook to find out how it would be leveraging technologies like Voice over IP (also known as VoIP), which is increasingly supplanting the traditional public switched telephone network.
Earlier this year, Facebook added free VoIP calling to its iOS and Android messenger apps. A Facebook spokesperson said this functionality will be available though Home but not via Chat Heads—yet. In other words, you won’t be able to call your friends for free simply by tapping their Chat Head. But the spokesperson indicated that feature could be coming.
The company also clarified there will be no overt support for HD Voice (thought it can hard to tell from their answer, which was to direct me to the specs for the HTC phone) or support for presence. However, there doesn’t appear to be any reason why this functionality couldn’t be added in a future release.
Finally, Facebook is not going to offer anything special to advertisers, such as a the equivalent of a “push notification” on the Cover Feed.
On the positive side, Facebook’s answers mean Facebook Home users won’t have to worry about the privacy risks that would have been associated with these features. They also won’t be bombarded with advertising on the front of their phone, though that could change. On the negative side, Facebook’s answers underscore the company’s decision to play it safe with this product announcement. A Facebook Phone could have been highly disruptive of the telecommunications ecosystem. Facebook Home is a promise to play (mostly) nice.
Following is my exchange with Facebook PR.
What kind of VoIP calling will be available?
You have full access to all messenger features (including VoIP) through Chat Heads by navigating through to messenger. VoIP won’t be available directly in the Chat Heads interface at launch, but we eventually hope to support the full range of messages functionality from within the Chat Heads interface.
Will it be possible to place a call from inside Facebook?
You will need to make the phone call from outside Facebook – You can control your phone experience by doing things like customizing your app home screen with your favorite things like your contacts, your phone, and most used apps. You can also easily access your app launcher from Home. You can also sync your Facebook contacts to your address book.
Will there be HD Voice?
Please we refer to the link below for HTC for device specs
Will there be presence information?
We only collect information about the app launcher, which we are using for internal diagnostics only, and we will only be collecting this information from a small randomized rolling subset of users.
Will there be multiplayer 3-D gaming from inside Facebook Home?
You will still be able to use the Facebook for Android app to play games as before. You can control your phone experience by doing things like customizing your app home screen with your favorite things like your contacts, you phone and most used Apps. For more information on how Home benefits app developers, https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2013/04/04/facebook-home/
Will it be possible for a Facebook advertiser to reach users of Facebook Home through push notifications?
The notifications you will receive will be your current Facebook notifications. As with all Facebook mobile notifications, we optimize the notifications we push to Cover Feed based on user responses. We do not provide notifications from ads.