Facebook to release smartphone

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Facebook smartphone to be unveiled

An event at Facebook's San Francisco headquarters later this evening is expected to announce the first smartphone device developed by the social media giant.

The company have been closely guarding details of the device, with a secretive invitation to the event merely stating "Come see our new home on Android". Despite Facebook not offering any further information than this, a number of patents filed by Facebook's head of mobile Eric Tseng have offered some clues. One of the biggest innovations expected to be introduced is the 'Uberfeed', which will be displayed on the home screen when the device is locked.

Uberfeed is said to include the latest updates from the users' Facebook page, as well as emails, text messages, news articles and specific updates which are relevant to their current location. This feed will also be of interest to advertisers, as it is predicted that targeted adverts will also appear alongside these real time updates.

Further features of the Facebook phone

The Facebook software is expected to run on a Myst device, specially designed by the Taiwanese company HTC. Alongside the aforementioned 'Uberfeed', a number of innovative ideas regarding the user's phone contacts are predicted. This includes users being listed not in alphabetical order, but by the proximity of the contact to the current location of the caller. This is hoped to allow people to quickly contact their friends who they may be waiting to meet, or if they are calling for directions to a nearby location. This is very similar to the recently redesigned Facebook local search which is already available to social media users.

As well as using location data to list contacts, Facebook will also be used to provide information on the individual you are calling. This includes such details as any recent or upcoming events such as birthdays, information on any recent activities the contact has participated in and even such basic information as the names of the contact's children or partner.

The event begins at 6pm GMT as is expected to include many other interesting innovations, in addition to the strongly speculated features above. Speculation has suggested that the camera will be directly linked to Facebook to upload photos automatically, and that the 'chat' system used by the service could be directly integrated into the phone itself.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword remarked: "680 million of Facebook's billion users now access the service using their mobile phones, so it is no surprise that the company believes there is a strong market for a Facebook smartphone device. The main issue which may concern potential users is Facebook privacy, a topic which has been hotly contested in the past. The company will need to reassure users that their data is safe, before they can become a rival to such devices as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy."