INQ launches Facebook-centric Android handsets

There has long been talk of an official ‘Facebook Phone’, something the social network has always denied was being developed in-house. But niche handset vendor INQ, which focuses on social media and applications and is owned by 3’s parent Hutchison, has come close to validating the rumours with the launch of two new Android handsets created in close collaboration with Facebook.

The Cloud Touch and Cloud Q don’t carry the social network branding on the hardware, but their homescreens are set to display a constantly updating feed of posts, videos and images from the site. The firm described the two devices as being “built for people who use Facebook as their primary means of communication,” and delivering a “fully live Facebook experience built around INQ’s Visual Media Feed.”

The handsets will feature brand new Facebook mobile apps, the company said, which will signal the end of text as the default means of status update. They are the first handsets to use the Facebook Social Graph API, INQ said, making it easy for users to closely follow the friends with whom they interact the most. They also feature Spotify as the default music player.

“Facebook has evolved from a social network to become an incredibly powerful global communications platform. Speed and simplicity of access to things you love is our DNA, so our next step is to make it even easier for people to experience the richness of Facebook – all from the homescreen,” said INQ’s chief executive, Frank Meehan. “INQ is all about enhancing the mobile experience, using the power and flexibility of Google’s brilliant Android platform which ultimately makes all this possible.”

Henri Moissinac, head of Mobile Business for Facebook said:  “INQ has built an innovative and easy to use set of features that enable people to use common Facebook interactions such as viewing photos and videos, chat, message, and check-in to their favorite businesses all from the home screen.”

The devices will be available first in the UK, where INQ is headquartered, exclusively through the Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy, itself a CPW subsidiary in Europe. Interestingly there seem to be no plans at launch for the phones to be available through 3UK, INQ’s sister company.

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