There’s been a rumor going around for ages that Facebook was building a mobile operating system to compete with Android, iOS, and others. It doesn’t appear to be true. What is true is that Facebook has been working on mobile software that provides tight integration with its social networking tools and makes a phone running another OS (like say, Android) look a lot like a so-called Facebook Phone.
Phone maker INQ is starting to show off a new phone called the INQ Cloud Tech which runs Google Android 2.2 with Facebook software running on top. Like any Android phone, you can use Google apps and services or install third party apps, but here’s what makes the INQ Cloud Tech special:
- There’s a new Facebook widget for the home screen which delivers your News Feeds, media, events, and other information.
- Facebook events integrate with your Google Calendar.
- There’s a bar at the bottom of the screen which provides quick access to Facebook Photos, Chat, Messages, and other features.
The apps have been designed by Facebook, but INQ is likely just the first company to layer the Facebook UI on top of Android. This isn’t like the Google Nexus One, which was a phone built by HTC but branded by Google. Despite the heavy Facebook integration, the Cloud Tech is an INQ phone.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook made the home screen widgets available for download from the Android Market for customers who don’t by a phone that comes with them.