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From Oculus Quest to a Facebook redesign, everything announced at F8 2019

The next major Facebook redesign is here, along with a Messenger desktop app

facebook-redesign
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Facebook has had a bit of a rough 2018, but the company is trying to turn its fortunes around at F8, its annual developer conference in San Jose, California. CEO Mark Zuckerberg began the keynote with a bold claim declaring that “the future is private.” It shows Facebook’s emphasis to highlight its efforts toward improving privacy and security with its services after years of data breaches and privacy scandals.

F8 isn’t just about Facebook, though. There are announcements for Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger as well. Here’s everything Facebook announced at F8 2019.

Facebook

Facebook redesign.
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Facebook has announced a major redesign of the main Facebook website and app — making it much cleaner, modern, and easier to navigate. The new update — called FB5 — has begun rolling out (though a full rollout will take a few months), and includes an all-white look, with traces of Facebook’s iconic blue hue. There’s an option for a dark mode as well. Zuckerberg said the goal is to make Facebook is a little more community-focused, which is why the redesigned Groups tab makes it easy to find new spaces with a new discovery tool with recommendations. You can also now share content directly to groups from the News Feed, similar to how it’s possible to share content with friends and family.

As part of the redesign, Facebook is focusing a little more on groups, and as such, it is redesigning the Groups tab to help you better discover groups and to show a personalized feed of the activity across the groups that you’re a part of. The company also wants to better support specific communities on Facebook, like health-related communities. With the new “Health Support” feature, users will be able to post questions and share experience without their name appearing on the post.

Next up is the new “Events” tab, which will allow users to quickly and easily see what kinds of events are going on around them, and coordinate with friends to make plans to attend those events.

Facebook is (hopefully) going to become a little more privacy-focused, and Zuckerberg outlined six key components of making that happen: Private interactions, encryption, reduced permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage. Implementing these will take some time, specifically around a year according to Zuckerberg.

The new Facebook redesign is rolling out for the app now in the U.S. now, while the desktop redesign will arrive in the next few months.

Facebook Messenger

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Some big changes are set to come to Facebook Messenger in 2019, making it not only faster, but also more accessible. First and foremost is a new desktop app for Messenger built for MacOS and Windows. With the app, you’ll be able to chat with friends and family without having to navigate to Facebook.com or Messenger.com. It too sports the new Facebook Messenger redesign that rolled out a few months ago, including support for a dark mode.

Facebook is also working on a way to make Messenger work better across platforms: You’ll be able to message friends in WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, no matter which service you’re using. That’s a pretty major update to the services, and means that you won’t have to switch between apps depending on who you’re talking to.

There’s also “Project LightSpeed,” which is aimed at minimizing the time it takes for Facebook Messenger to launch and run. The LightSpeed update, which will roll out later this year, ensures Messenger will launch in under 2 seconds, and that the app size will be under 30MB. That’s helpful in countries where data is costly, and the size is down from Messenger’s current weight of 70MB.

Facebook also wants to supercharge Messenger’s video capabilities. The company is launching a feature that will allow users to watch videos in real time together while video chatting. The goal is to simulate a real living room experience, but digitally.

Instagram

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Facebook has announced a series of updates to Instagram too. While there aren’t any groundbreaking updates like the one to Facebook, there are a few cool new features to note — for example, the ability to shop from creators on Instagram. The new feature will roll out next week, and will allow you to shop for products being used by the creators you’re interested in without ever leaving the Instagram app.

There’s also a new way to raise funds for charities in Instagram. If you want to raise money for a cause that you care about, you can create a donation sticker in Stories – and 100% of the money raised through that sticker will go to the cause.

Finally, there is a new camera in Instagram, which will now offer “Create Mode.” Create Mode is for users who want to share something, but don’t have a specific photo or video in mind, and will allow you to create an image with stickers, text, and more.

Facebook Dating

At F8 2018, Facebook launched Facebook dating, but now it’s adding a number of new features to the Tinder competitor. Namely, the company launched a new feature called “Secret Crush,” which essentially allows you to tell Facebook Dating which people in your friends circle that you have a crush on. If they do the same, then you’ll match in Facebook Dating.

Facebook Dating is currently available in Columbia, Thailand, Canada, Argentina, and Mexico, but today it’s expanding to 14 new countries across Asia and South America. There’s no word on a U.S. launch just yet.

Oculus

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Facebook made some pretty major announcements related to Oculus too — namely the launch of the Oculus Quest stand-alone headset, and the new Oculus Rift S tethered headset. Both headsets now have a launch date of May 21, and, both will come at $399. Pre-orders for the headsets are open today.

The Quest is perhaps more highly-anticipated than the S, in that it’s aimed at being a powerful headset that doesn’t require tethering to a computer. If you are more interested in the S, you can use it with any computer that you could use the original Rift on, so you don’t need to buy new hardware, which is handy.

Facebook Portal

Facebook Portal+ review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Facebook launched the Portal smart display late last year, but the launch was a little limited. Soon, however, Facebook is bringing Portal to other locations. The company will bring Portal to Canada soon, with an expansion to Europe to follow in the fall.

Portal is also getting a little more helpful. For starters, WhatsApp will soon be available on Portal, essentially meaning that you’ll get video chatting on Portal that’s end-to-end encrypted. Not only that, but through Facebook’s partnership with Amazon, more Alexa skills and smart home features will soon be available on Portal.

Last but not least, Portal’s SuperFrame mode, which allows you to display your favorite photos, will soon get Instagram support, so you’ll be able to pull those photos from Instagram, and not just Facebook.

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