Facebook hosted its annual F8 Developer Conference this week, with Mark Zuckerberg taking the stage on the first day. The CEO addressed Facebook’s ongoing data privacy scandal, election meddling issues, and fake news problems, confronting the company’s efforts to fix those problems. “We are all here because we are optimistic about the future,” said Zuckerberg. “We have real challenges to address but we have to keep that sense of optimism too. What I learned this year is we have to take a broader view of our responsibility.”
Nevertheless, the show had to go on, and Mark Zuckerberg tried his best to keep developers excited about continuing to build on his platform. The CEO spent a brief moment of the keynote rallying developers to keep building and using their skills to bring people together. The company unveiled several updates coming to its product lineup, including the core Facebook app, Messenger, Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp.
1. Dating Service on Facebook
Are you still single? Don’t worry because Facebook doesn’t want you to remain single for long.
“There are 200 million people who have marked themselves as single on Facebook”, said Zuckerberg. Last year Facebook announced the Snapchat Story like feature, and now it appears that they are coming after Tinder next. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will soon offer a dating feature that allows people to browse potential matches at inside groups or events you’re interested in attending. This feature will allow people to connect with non-friends who have also opted-in to be on the dating platform hosted by Facebook. Everyone will use only their first names and start a conversation that is separate from the core Facebook or Messenger app. Matches will be made based on similarities in users’ profiles.
2. Messenger Revamp
Facebook Messenger, despite being one of Facebook’s most popular products, is extremely bloated and a bit of a mess on mobile. Now, Facebook is looking towards making Messenger look a bit more simplified, at least visually. Messenger VP of product David Marcus says the overall refresh is focused on making things cleaner and faster, with an upcoming dark mode teased in a short promotional video. They are also adding a limited translation feature that can translate English to Spanish. Messenger is going to expand the feature gradually with suggestions for more translations in the future.
Facebook Messenger will also get augmented reality support and brands will be able to integrate the AR camera effects into their Messenger experience. This feature will firstly launch in closed beta to help developers build new experiences and to let people virtually customize or try on merchandise.
3. Oculus Go portable headset
Facebook announced the standalone Oculus Go VR headset last October, but the device is officially launched at the F8 Developer Conference. Coming in at $199, the Oculus Go is significantly cheaper than its predecessor, but doesn’t require any cable or connections to run. You don’t need a PC or a mobile phone to use the Oculus Go — you can just turn it on and, as the name suggests, go.
As the Oculus Go is a stand-alone headset, it requires a built-in processor, RAM, and storage. The computational power in the headset isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it gets the job done. Under the hood, you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, the 2016 flagship phone SoC. You’ll also find 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage.
4. Instagram: Video Chat and more
Instagram will also get a new video chat feature to let users connect like in Messenger and Viber. Video chat will be available on Instagram Direct messaging. This feature is currently in testing and will roll out soon globally, says the company.
Facebook had announced the AR camera platform at the 2017 F8 conference and this year it will be added to Instagram. This looks like a shot across the bow at Snapchat! Instagram’s Explore feed will also be revamped. It will organize suggested content into relevant topic channels and make it easier for the users browse across areas of interests. Again this feature is also in testing mode with the global roll-out to take place soon.
5. Clear History on Facebook
Facebook will soon let the users Clear History, though this feature is still some months away from launch. It will let users delete account information shared with websites and apps that send Facebook information when one uses them. Users will also have the option of turning off Facebook’s ability to store such information in the future. Zuckerberg called it the kind of control his company believes users should have, but only after noting that it may diminish a user’s Facebook experience.
6. Group video calls, Stickers for Whatsapp
While WhatsApp is not getting a refresh quite as dramatic as Messenger, it will be receiving a few minor updates. Group video calling has been one of the most anticipated features from WhatsApp! And according to Facebook, this feature will be rolled out to users in the months to come. Stickers are also coming to WhatsApp soon, confirmed the company. These stickers have already been spotted in an Android beta version of the app.
7. Developers can submit apps again, but things are different
After the Cambridge Analytica news broke, Facebook froze all new app approvals while it reviewed its system, audited existing apps, and dealt with a public relations crisis. Zuckerberg, on F8 Developer Conference, announced that app reviews were open again. Ime Archibong, Facebook’s head of platform, said the process will be slightly stricter going forward. More companies will have to be verified by Facebook before they can roll out an app.
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