From chatbots in Messenger to a new open-source 360-degree camera, this year’s F8 was perhaps the most exciting F8 conference to date — and that was only the keynote. We may see a few more cool announcements on the morrow. Here’s a rundown of everything from the show, in case you missed it.
Facebook may have recently launched the Oculus Rift, but it isn’t stopping there with VR. At F8 it showed off a new 360-degree camera called Surround VR, aimed at kickstarting virtual reality content creation. It’s been a somewhat slow start for high quality 360-degree VR cameras.
The real kicker isn’t that this is perhaps the highest quality 360-degree camera we’ve seen to date, but the fact that it’s totally open source. The reference design and code for the software and hardware will be made available on GitHub sometime in the summer, allowing content creators to build their own version of the camera if they so choose. Of course, the camera’s specs are still nothing to shake a fist at — it boasts 17 cameras capable of capturing 8K video at 60 frames per second. You can watch the video on a number of VR devices, including the Samsung Gear VR and the Oculus Rift.
Facebook will allow you to use third-party cameras for live streaming
The video news didn’t stop with Surround 360. Facebook also announced that it will be continuing its push into live streaming with a new Live Streaming API. This will allow developers to build Facebook live video straight into their apps, and will also enable users to live stream from third-party cameras that aren’t the cameras built into their phone.
To show off the new feature, Mark Zuckerberg brought in a drone, which briefly hovered around the stage and live streamed a video feed to Facebook.
The company also showcased the Mevo camera, built by Livestream. The camera works with Facebook Live, enabling anyone to capture higher quality video to stream to their friends, family, and fans. It captures video in 4K and has an accompanying app, so you can switch between virtual camera angles.
Facebook finally announced the long awaited support for bots on Messenger, kickstarting a new way to interact with businesses on Facebook.
Instead of having to call a 1-800 number or go through complex communications systems to get in touch with a business, you’ll simply be able to head to Messenger and send a message to the company, after which an automated bot will help you with whatever you need. Bots can also be used for getting information about weather and news, as well as ordering flowers, as Zuckerberg demonstrated on stage at F8.
Facebook is bringing three new features to the masses that should simplify our digital lives.
The first is the new Account Kit feature, which seems to follow in the footsteps of Twitter’s Digits. In the past, you’ve been able to log into services using Facebook, but you still needed your username and password. Account Kit, however, allows for you to be able to sign up for any app using only your email address or phone number.
The next feature is called “Save to Facebook,” and it basically allows you to save websites and articles straight to your Facebook account for later viewing. The feature puts Facebook in direct competition with the likes of Pocket, but it won’t immediately replace Pocket just yet. It will launch with partners like Product Hunt and Overstock, but Facebook hopes to expand it over time.
Last but not least is “Quote to Facebook,” which basically allows you to bypass the need to copy and paste. Instead, you simply highlight test and then press “Share Quote,” which will cause Facebook to generate a post that includes a quote and a link to the article you’re quoting from.
While Facebook is now a major player in the virtual reality market, it hasn’t yet really made it into augmented reality. Mark Zuckerberg, however, spoke about the future of AR at the conference, describing a pair of normal-looking glasses that function as AR goggles.
“In the future, you’ll be able to snap your fingers and pull out a photo and make it as big as you want, and with your AR glasses you’ll be able to show it to people, and they’ll be able to see it,” he said at F8.
Don’t expect anything like this to come out just yet — the glasses were described as part of Facebook’s 10-year road map, and even then Zuckerberg said that they would take a “long time to make.”
Facebook and WhatsApp process 60 billion messages per day
You read that right — 60 billion messages every single day. During the keynote Mark Zuckerberg talked about how quickly Messenger and WhatsApp are growing, with Messenger being the fastest growing app in the world. At 60 billion messages, Messenger and WhatsApp are processing three times the number of SMS messages that were processed per day during the peak time of SMS.
Given the still-rising popularity of messaging, the stat isn’t totally surprising, but it does still highlight how important messaging is becoming to out digital lives, something that will likely continue with additions like chatbots.
It will now be much easier to replace your profile picture with a profile video. Facebook started rolling out the ability to upload 7 second videos to replace profile pictures last year, and now its allowing third-party video apps to upload profile videos for you.
Partners at launch include the likes of Vine and Boomerang. All you’ll have to do is capture the video, and then select “Use as Profile Video” within the app. Then, the video will be uploaded to Facebook in place of your profile picture. Facebook is calling the feature “profile expression kit,” and it’s available to developers starting today, so expect to see it pop up as an option in your favorite video apps in the near future.
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