BARCELONA, Spain-Handset maker HTC announced two phones built with an emphasis on social networking, combining the user-friendly platform of HTC Sense with connectivity to Facebook. As part of an extended portfolio of six HTC Sense-based devices being unveiled at Mobile World Congress here, the company’s ChaCha and Salsa smartphones feature a dedicated Facebook button for one-touch access to the key functions of the Facebook service that are integrated throughout the HTC Sense platform.
The smartphones will be available to customers across major European and Asian markets during the second quarter of 2011, with AT&T bringing them to the United States later in the year.
The Facebook button on the ChaCha and Salsa is context-aware, gently pulsing with light whenever there is an opportunity to share content or updates through Facebook. With a single press of the button, users can update their status, upload a photo, share a Website, post what song they are listening to, “check in” to a location and more. For example, users can take a photograph of friends on their phone and upload it instantly to Facebook by pressing the button. In order to let friends know what song they’re listening to, users press the button while listening to music on the phone; the track is automatically identified and shared on Facebook.
“HTC has always understood that different people want different things, and the ChaCha and Salsa offer special new ways to experience Facebook on a mobile device,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. “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.”
The handsets also make it possible to stay in touch with friends using Facebook Chat and Messages on the phone. Facebook messages and conversations are integrated within the phone and appear within text and e-mail inboxes alongside regular conversations. Henri Moissinac, head of mobile business for Facebook, said the company worked closely with HTC for several years on bringing Facebook to its devices. “HTC is enabling people to connect and share easily whenever they want, wherever they are,” he said.
The new devices feature Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 and the latest version of HTC’s Sense technology. When a user makes a phone call, the dialer screen displays the friend’s latest status and photos, and also tells the user if their birthday is approaching. The same updates are also displayed when a user receives a call from a Facebook friend. Consumers can also use the phone’s existing contacts to help connect with them on Facebook or personalize the handset further with a number of new, Facebook-branded widgets.
The Salsa handset offers a 5-megapixel camera and a 3.4-inch, 480-by-320 resolution touch display, as well as a VGA forward-facing camera providing video calling capability. The ChaCha features a tilt design, which shapes the display and physical QWERTY keyboard so it is easier to view and type. A 2.6-inch, 480-by-320 resolution landscape touch screen, a 5-megapixel color camera with auto-focus and LED flash, and a VGA front-facing camera round out the package.