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Originally published February 14, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Page modified February 14, 2011 at 7:26 PM

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Facebook integrated in new HTC phones

Remember those rumors about a Facebook phone? It turns out HTC and Facebook spent several years developing two of them that are being announced Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Seattle Times senior technology reporter

Remember those rumors about a Facebook phone?

It turns out HTC and Facebook spent several years developing two of them that are being announced Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

HTC worked with Facebook to integrate the social network into the phones, adding a dedicated Facebook key with the "F" logo that pulsates when you do something shareable on the phone.

When taking pictures, you can press F to upload them to Facebook, for instance, or when using Google Maps, you can press it to share your location.

"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," Henri Moissinac, head of Facebook's mobile business, said in a news release.

Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC North America in Bellevue, said Facebook's logo appears on the special key but "we will not brand this as the Facebook phone or anything."

Mackenzie said the "ChaCha" model, with a 2.6-inch touch-screen and exposed keyboard, will compete with the BlackBerry Curve.

The second model, the Salsa, is a touch-screen-only phone with a 3.4-inch screen.

They'll be available in the second quarter, at prices to be announced later.

Both are based on version 2.4 of Google's Android software and have Facebook integrated into the HTC Sense interface.

When calling or receiving a call from Facebook friends, the software displays friends' latest status and photos and alerts you if their birthday is coming up.

HTC is also announcing a tablet computer, the "Flyer," which will go on sale in the second quarter. It's intended to be a high-end device, with an aluminum housing, a 7-inch diagonal touch-screen, a 1.5 gigahertz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 32 gigabytes of RAM and HSPA+ wireless capability.

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It's launching with Android 2.4 but will be upgradeable to the upcoming "Honeycomb" version of Android optimized for tablets.

HTC designed a new version of its Sense interface for the larger screen of a tablet, with a carousel for navigating icons and widgets.

The Flyer also comes with a stylus for taking notes on the device. Mackenzie said this is a more polite way to take notes than typing on a tablet or laptop during a meeting.

HTC is playing up the Flyer's media capabilities. It will feature HTC's new "Watch" video-download service and come preloaded with the OnLive streaming game service, taking advantage of a $40 million investment HTC is making in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup.

The Flyer also has a 5-megapixel camera plus a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for videoconferencing.

The price of the Flyer and bundled services such as OnLive will be announced later, Mackenzie said.

Also being announced is a new version of HTC's Desire model, with an aluminum unibody design; the Incredible S with a 4-inch screen (up from 3.7-inches on the previous Incredible); and a lower-end Android phone called the Wildfire S intended to be a more affordable smartphone sold for $100 or less by wireless carriers.

Surprise to Intel

BARCELONA, Spain — Intel was surprised when Nokia announced it would put Windows Phone 7 instead of Meego on its smartphones.

The two had been collaborating to make Meego a smartphone operating system for Nokia. The Finnish phone maker announced Friday that Windows Phone 7 will become the primary operating system on its smartphones in a partnership with Microsoft.

"That was definitely disappointing to us," said Reuben Gallegos, Intel investor relations manager, at a briefing at Mobile World Congress. "We were not expecting that. ... Literally the decision came so fast we don't know what will happen long term."

Meego will become an open-source alternative for Nokia. "We will still work with them, maybe not so closely now," Gallegos said.

The partnership with Nokia is Microsoft's second blow to Intel this year. In January, Microsoft said it would design its next version of Windows to run on chip sets designed by ARM, an Intel rival.

— Sharon Pian Chan

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