Ina Fried

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You Don’t Need Facebook Home to Get Your Chat Heads On

The new Facebook Home software is available in the Google Play store, at least for those in the U.S. and with certain supported Android phones.

Facebook Home Event in Menlo Park, CA, on April 4, 2013.

But even those who don’t get Facebook Home can use one of its key features — Chat Heads.

Facebook is making Chat Heads available as part of an update to its Messenger app for Android — something it hadn’t touted when it announced Home last week.

The Chat Heads feature creates a persistent messaging experience that allows chatting with friends from within any other application. It is one of the main features of Facebook Home, which also offers a “Cover Feed” that replaces the home screen and lock screen of an Android phone with a scrolling array of pictures and status updates.

Facebook Home can be downloaded for a handful of phones including the Galaxy S III, HTC One, HTC One X and HTC One X+ and is available on a new mid-range phone from AT&T — the HTC First.

The Messenger app update is available to a broader range of Android users, appearing to require only that phones be running version 2.2 of the operating system or later.

Update: Facebook says the new Messenger app requires Android 2.2 (Froyo) but that the Chat Heads feature needs at least Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) along with “a sufficiently large screen.”

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