Facebook isn’t making a phone — yet. But when AT&T stores started selling the HTC First on April 12, Facebook got one step closer to fixing one of its biggest problems: not having a major mobile presence.
Yes, Facebook had an app that worked on Apple and Android devices. But Facebook admits its software missed out on letting it tap into the growing mobile advertising market said to be expanding 77% this year to $7.3 billion, according to eMarketer.
When the HTC First is turned on, Facebook essentially takes over as the phone’s operating system, the way Windows 8 blankets the desktop that houses fi les on Microsoft-powered PCs. News feeds, photos and chat functions are all there, as expected, as is a better integration of Instagram.
Home’s launch is either timely or too late as more teens turn to Twitter, YouTube, Vine and Instagram for their social activity. But Home is also available as a download for other Android phones — it only works on Google’s software, given its fl exibility. And that’s
how Facebook hopes to take over as many of the 860 million Android devices expected to ship this year, according to Gartner Group.
In return, a lot more “like” buttons pressed and ad-based revenue (its share of the U.S. mobile ad biz grew to 10% in 2012, eMarketer says). For marketers, Home’s another major platform to promote their products — from snack foods and cars to TV shows and movies. And that’s ultimately what will matter most to Facebook: letting marketers feel that they have a direct connection with consumers anywhere
Griffin PowerDock 5 | $100
Apple’s done a great job of convincing us to buy its products. Now that we have most of them, keeping them organized and charged up can be a chore. Griffiin, which specializes in making accessories for mobile devices, has come up with the PowerDock 5 charging station. Requiring just a single outlet, it connects five devices and eliminates the unsightly spaghetti of cords that come with living a plugged-in lifestyle. Device will take up the same space as an iPad, so it’s convenient for any desk, counter top or nightstand when it becomes available this summer.
Aha | free for iPhone, iPad, Android
With half of all music-listening occuring in cars, securing a presence on the screens in dashboards is key for startups. Yet for companies without deep Pandora-sized pockets, deals with individual automakers may be a pipe dream. Harman’s Aha platform, now also available in Europe, aggregates content into a central hub for mobile phones or inside cars (from Ford, Honda, Subaru and Porsche) that boasts more than 30,000 radio stations (including NPR, CBS, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Deezer), plays audiobooks, traffic reports and reads back Facebook, Twitter and Yelp posts.
Apps you need to simplify your mobile lifestyle:
Free | iPhone, Android, m.uber.com
The best car service on the market, Uber quickly locates professional drivers in most major cities and instantly handles payments. Pricing depends on vehicle type — from hybrids to SUVs — traffic and distance. Fares can be steep depending on the number of available cars, but when in a hurry, it’s worth it.
Free | iPhone, iPad, Android
Updated graphics make the to-do list process, jotting down notes, or even capturing visual or audio ones, a fun experience — to the point where you want to revisit them, with various projects stored in a list of colorful customizable folders that can be shared. Easily beats rivals Evernote and Google Keep.
Free | iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry
After getting users to check in everywhere since its launch at SXSW four years ago, the new 6.0 version wants to suggest where to go next based on info from more than 30 million users. Consider it Foursquare’s attempt to stay relevant and compete with the likes of