The F8 conference has been a platform where Facebook showed the world its ambitions. From blanketing the world with internet connectivity to showcasing its most advanced research — such as technologies that allow your brain to type or your skin to hear — Facebook proves that it is not afraid to dream big. Leading up to this year’s F8, the company’s vice president of consumer hardware, Andrew Bosworth, said “we’ll share the biggest AR/VR news from Facebook to date” in a tweet.
Facebook’s big ambitions may be more muted this year given that the company had to answer hard questions about privacy when it found itself embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica breach. One of its biggest dreamers, Regina Dugan, has even left her post as head of the company’s experimental research group.
At F8 this year, Facebook must show that it can balance consumer interests and developer needs, which can often conflict. In one example, a startup called Pod, which creates an iOS calendar app that integrates with Facebook events, found its access to the social network’s data was revoked without warning. Pod only learned that its app did not work after users complained. “We were really proud of our first-class Facebook events integration, but we’ll think twice about investing time into Facebook’s platform in the future,” developer Justin Krause told The Verge of his experience.
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But F8 won’t be just about Zuckerberg’s apology tour — Facebook already announced its plans to limit information sharing. By focusing on augmented and virtual reality, Oculus could represent a way for Facebook to escape, if only in fantasy, its current reality, filled is with serious privacy concerns. There are more than a dozen talks planned for virtual and augmented reality.
Last year, Facebook announced a $199 stand-alone Oculus Go, but the headset didn’t get a ship date. Potentially, we could learn of when Oculus Go will be available to purchase along with Facebook’s plans for the augmented reality space.
On the consumer side, Facebook could unveil further changes to its newsfeed, designed to surface meaningful content. If Facebook is successful in its vision, it could go some way toward regaining consumer trust, boosting advertising revenues, and stopping fake news in one big push. The company has several sessions planned around the news feed on the first day of F8.
And even though Facebook may have shelved plans for its M digital assistant in Messenger, the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot could be used to draw businesses in. Rival Apple is leveraging iMessage to allow consumers to interact with businesses, and Facebook could be readying an offensive to bring businesses back to the platform. This could help Facebook thwart the boycott it faces from businesses, including Tesla and SpaceX.
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