Facebook is now officially a hard key on phones, thanks to HTC, which announced two new Android devices with such a feature: the HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa.
Like most smartphones have a button for search, these two phones have a button for sharing. The concept is simple, whatever app you're in or whatever content you're viewing, you can instantly share that to Facebook with a quick press of a button. The button pulsates with light whenever there is an opportunity to share content, so it even goes out of its way to encourage sharing.
"With a single press of the button, you can update your status, upload a photo, share a Website, post what song you are listening to, 'check in' to a location and more," HTC explains. "For example, you can take a photograph of friends on your phone and upload it instantly to Facebook by simply pressing the button. Or let your friends know what song you're listening to by pressing the button while listening to music on the phone. The track is automatically identified and shared on Facebook."
This could be the beginning of something huge for Facebook, which is already huge itself. It's highly unlikely that other manufacturers (as well as other models from HTC) will not include such Facebook buttons in the future. So with that in mind, it stands to reason that there will be a lot more sharing of content through Facebook, further cementing the social network as the leader in its space, and helping to prevent it (along with many other factors) from going the way of MySpace.
What next, Twitter hard keys? Maybe Google should find a way to get a Google Buzz hard key on some Android phones. Or a "Google+1" key.
A hard key may seem like a small feature, but it's huge for the companies that benefit from its functionality. How many Google searches do you think start with the tap of such a button? That's why the Nokia deal is so potentially huge for Microsoft's Bing.
"HTC has always understood that different people want different things and the new HTC ChaCha and Salsa offer special new ways to experience Facebook on a mobile device," said HTC CEO Peter Chou. "With more than 500 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become synonymous with the social web and we wanted to create the ultimate socially connected phones with mass market appeal."
"We have worked closely with HTC for several years on bringing Facebook to their devices and HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa are the next stage," said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business for Facebook. "HTC has brought Facebook to these two new devices in an innovative way enabling people to connect and share easily whenever they want, wherever they are."
These two phones both run Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 and the latest iteration of HTC Sense. Facebook messages and conversations appear within text and email inboxes alongside regular conversations.
Both phones will be available in Europe and Asia in the second quarter, and later this year in the US, where they will be exclusive to AT&T.
Update: Since this article was written, Facebook commented further on the HTC ChaCha and Salsa phones, as well as some other mobile happenings:
Two upcoming Android devices from INQ, the Cloud Touch and Cloud Q, feature new Facebook integrations with single sign-on and easy one-touch access to popular Facebook features. The home screen features your News Feed (including your friends' updates, pictures, videos and links) and quick links to Chat, Messages, Places, notifications and more. You can also check in to your favorite shops and businesses with Facebook Places, right from the home screen.