Facebook laid out its vision for the future Tuesday, revealing new tools and features during its annual F8 developers conference.
Here’s a closer look at the biggest announcements the company made during its opening keynote, from augmented reality (AR) to messenger bots.
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off Tuesday’s conference, he emphasized that the camera would play a larger role in how people interact with friends on the social network. Facebook is encouraging developers to build new augmented reality camera effects for Facebook, which will be launching in a closed beta starting immediately. Eventually, dozens of AR-powered effects, like masks and frames, will be available within the Facebook app’s camera.
Based on the company’s demo, these photo effects will be able to move and adjust based on what the camera is pointing at. Users could fill a photo of a room with candy, for instance, or put swimming sharks around an image of a cereal bowl.
Facebook says its AR platform will eventually make it possible to leave a virtual note for a friend at a restaurant or create artwork that appears on a building wall when looking at it with your phone.
Facebook will be launching software to help developers create such experiences called AR Studio. Zuckerberg also teased the company’s ultimate goal with AR, saying yet again the tech will “eventually” be implemented in glasses.
Ever since Facebook acquired virtual reality firm Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014, Zuckerberg has said that he sees VR as the future of social interaction. Facebook unveiled its first major step in that direction on Tuesday with Facebook Spaces, an app that makes it possible to spend time with friends in virtual reality.
Through the app, which launches in beta on Tuesday, users can create a digital avatar, then chat and interact with friends in VR. Facebook will generate an avatar based on your photos, which you can customize. During these hangouts, participants can draw with virtual markers, watch 360-degree videos, and call other friends through Messenger.
New Messenger features
Facebook’s selection of chat bots has quickly grown since the company opened its Messenger platform to developers, but there hasn’t been an easy way to find new bots. Facebook is addressing that issue by adding a new Discover tab accessible from the home screen. Here, Messenger will offer categories, recently used bots, trending bots, and a search field.
Facebook is also building chat extensions into Messenger, which make it possible for more than one person to interact with a third party app or business at the same time. For example, Messenger users will now be able to drop songs from Spotify into a thread so that they can all listen to the same track.
Facebook has been experimenting with its M virtual assistant since 2015, and now it’s finally bringing some of that intelligence to its chat app. When talking about what to grab for dinner in Messenger, M will now be able to suggest placing an order through Delivery.com. The announcement comes after Facebook recently announced that M will be coming to Messenger to serve up relevant stickers and perform other functions.
QR codes have become a large part of the way WeChat users interact with brands in China, and Facebook is betting some of that interest will translate to its own communication platform. The company is rolling out new QR codes that makes it possible to learn more about events in the real world by scanning them with your phone.
Facebook is hoping to make its platform attractive for the next generation of app creators through its new Developer Circles initiative. The program is free an open to any developer, and will function as a forum for collaborating and sharing knowledge. Local developers will lead each circle by organizing offline events and managing a Facebook Group for that specific region. The company is pushing it as an opportunity for students and experienced coders alike. Facebook will also partner with Udacity to create custom training programs for Developer Circles.
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