On Tuesday, this week, Facebook kicked off its annual F8 developer conference with a keynote address. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others on his team made a few announcements. These announcements were aimed at developers. But the suggestions for the Facebook users were pretty clear. The apps that billions of people use daily—Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram— will get new camera tricks, along with new augmented reality capabilities, and things like bots. Here’s a list of the biggest news to come out of F8 on Tuesday.
According to Facebook, the camera is now the most important thing on your phone. Sharing photos and videos with your friends will continue to be huge. But soon you will experience new augmented reality inside Facebook, through your camera. You’ll get games and photo filters. Your surroundings will soon be flooded in playful and informational metadata. You will only be able to see that by lifting up your handset, opening the Facebook app, and seeing the world through the camera.
Social VR comes to life with the new Facebook Spaces. It is a virtual reality app that lets you hang out with friends inside your headset. The app has launched already as a beta. You are free to build whatever kind of weird, virtual world you want. You can do that as long as you have the requisite Oculus gear.
Facebook’s new augmented reality tools will let you place virtual objects into the real world when you view your surroundings through your phone. You will get AR games that incorporate real-world objects thanks to a technology called “SLAM.” SLAM stands for simultaneous localization and mapping. It lays a 3-D grid over the table in front of you and turns it into a gameboard. Also, you will get AR art pieces only viewable through your phone.
Music & Games in Messenger
New integrations bring games and music into the platform so you can share the latest song or play a match without closing your chat window. The full potential depends on what developers bring to the table. For now, Facebook has synced Messenger with Spotify. They have also promised an assimilation with Apple Music soon. Facebook wants Messenger to be the ultimate place for you to talk to your friends.
Someday you are in a mood to Japenese food, and the Messenger bots go to work. Your favorite restaurant pops up. You browse the menu and add the desired items to the cart. The bot handles the mobile payment. Later, when you decide on a movie, a bot appears with a list of showtimes and helps you buy your tickets. You’ll see many more interactions as Facebook develops the role bots play within Chat Extensions.
Frame & Masks
The Camera Effects is Facebook’s attempt at making photos and videos more Snapchat-like. Frame Studio and AR Studio are tools that allow developers and artists to create AR content. Frame Studio allows developers to make 2D overlays. It is similar to Snapchat geotags that reside on the borders of the photo or video. The AR studio lets developers create 3D masks that track and respond to facial movement. It is very much similar to Snapchat’s Dog mask, which sticks out its tongue when you open your mouth. They do this without having to write any code. These tools aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. But they make creating AR content easily accessible.
The global developer base for Facebook is widespread. Not all of those coders have access to the same educational resources and infrastructure support. About a year ago, Facebook had launched a pilot program called Developer Circles. The program was made with an intention of spreading knowledge. Now the program is expanding. Developers will be able to participate in meetups, workshops, and hacking sessions. That will result in a larger group of people creating better apps.
Facebook’s mobile AI assistant often gets overshadowed by Google Assistant, Alexa. But Facebook is still working on M’s capabilities. The AI will continue to get smarter over time, the company said at F8. It will also allow businesses to create tools to manage customer interactions. There’s also a new M Suggest feature. This feature will offer you recommendations.
With sessions and experiences featuring the latest products and innovations, there’s something for everyone. You’ll learn about new features, best practices and ways to make the world more open and connected. There’s more to come from Facebook as the conference concludes on Wednesday.