When a user's Facebook friends start a new chat, their picture pops up on Android phone home page in a small bubble – a "chat head".
"We think that Chat Heads are this great, personal way to do messaging," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the presentation in San Francisco, California.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook product designer, said the feature would personalise people's phones better. "What we're trying to do is shift people's focus away from tasks and apps and toward people," he said,
He demonstrated how the phone bounces back and forth between the various features. "There's nothing between you and your content. You can literally just reach out and touch it," Mosseri says.
If you can't quite picture Chat Heads, imagine if the text message bubble on your phone expanded and saturated everything, everyone in your contacts grew a bobble head, and whenever you revved up your phone, your friends' heads would be there, talking to you.
"It really feels like your friends are always there," Mosseri said. "Your friends shouldn't be siloed off from these apps."
The appeal of this feature for you will depend in part on whether you think it's nice to have your friends always there.
Reaction was, inevitably, mixed: Guardian commentator Dan Gillmor wasn't buying the hype.
Facebook isn't just shifting people away from apps and toward people. It's shifting them to always be inside Facebook.
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) April 4, 2013
But Ant de Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, liked the Chat Heads feature.
I do love the idea that I don't need to switch apps to send a message. Chat Heads is a big upgrade IMO reut.rs/FacebookLIVE
— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) April 4, 2013
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Crunchies2009