Everything we’ve seen and heard at Facebook F8


Facebook’s big developer conference of the year, F8, is coming to a close. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the other speakers made some pretty big announcements, like the Camera Effects Platform, on the first day, but the second day’s keynote speakers focused on connectivity, artificial intelligence, and again on virtual and augmented reality.

Some new features are available now, such as Facebook Spaces, while others have timelines that could extend 5 to 10 years.

Watch the streams

If you missed the Facebook Live streams, you can watch them directly from the Facebook for Developers page here.

The Camera Effects Platform

CEO Zuckerberg announced a new Camera Effects platform, which will enhance the new camera featured in both the Facebook app and Facebook Messenger. The camera improvements and additions so far are “act one,” and act two will be about adding effects to build an augmented reality experiences. Camera Effects launches in beta today with basic effects but will grow to 1,000s of options, with help from third-party developers. Camera Effects will include major classes of features to add to the experience including location mapping, 3D, and more.

Read more about Camera Effects.

Facebook Spaces

Virtual reality is continuously gaining steam, and Facebook is a major player — it owns Oculus, after all. The social media giant’s new Spaces platform will provide virtual environments where you and your friends can interact with avatars you choose based on your profile photos. You’ll need a VR headset to try Facebook spaces, like the Oculus Rift. The beta app version is available now in the Oculus store.

Read more about Facebook Spaces.

Group Chat Extensions

facebook improves chatbot ai chat bots poncho

Chat Extensions essentially brings Facebook Messenger chat bots into group chats. The go a little further than the average chat bot, because they feature more interactivity with more people. The Spotify bot, for example, can share tunes with everyone in a Messenger session. The OpenTable bot can book restaurant reservations for a party of five. More are on the way from the Food Network, Kayak, and TheScore.

Read more about bots.

Connectivity

Facebook is lifting its sights higher, literally. Moving beyond merely trying to connect everyone on the planet via social networks and messaging, now the company is looking to the atmosphere and the stratosphere to develop technologies that can bring internet connectivity to everyone, including populations that are currently unserved or underserved and crisis areas where power and communications systems are down.

Read more about connectivity.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence work is moving along at a fast pace as computers learn about the world. Just two years ago Facebook’s AI team identified 20 classes of questions then-current AI engines struggled with. Now, with those types of questions mastered, they’re proceeding with thousands of question classes. Today, for example, an AI system can ingest every article in Wikipedia and accurately answer any questions from that content. The team also working on algorithms for what they refer to as “casual 3D image capture” to be able to understand and respond to context as well as content.

Virtual Reality

facebook f8 2017 news oculus rift and gear

Facebook had a big year with virtual reality, shipping Oculus Rift and Touch with the much lower-priced 2017 Samsung Gear VR coming soon. Facebook knows, however, that what people really want are glasses that can help experience all the senses, not just vision. Comparing virtual reality today to personal computing before the Apple Macintosh brought huge qualitative advances to people’s experience, Facebook said the true breakthrough will come when we can mix real and virtual worlds everywhere.  At that time, still years away, we’ll all want comfortable glasses for always-on virtual computing. Drawing another reference to current technology, Oculus scientist Michael Abrash asked the audience to think how much smarter we are now thanks to the PC and phone. He said AR glasses will mix VR with the real world will make us even smarter. Abrash predicted that VR and AR’s “Macintosh moment” is 5 years distant at best.

Augmented Reality

facebook f8 2017 news brainwave typing

Some of the coolest over-the-top content in today’s keynote included developments and future projects in augmented reality. Facebook executive Regina Dugan said now’s the time to be back in the room and focus on how the powerful force in today’s smartphones can be used for better connections with people next to us, not just reaching those who are far away. She spoke of speech as a lossy compression algorithm and the potential of a direct brain-to-PC interface as a powerful force for change. Dugan showed examples in Facebook’s Building 8 of a woman typing using just her brain, and of another person detecting thought by “hearing” with skin. To push immersion further, Facebook announced two 360 degree cameras still in development that will allow movement within the image via additional lenses.

Read more about augmented reality here and here.

Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Virtual Reality

New Oculus Touch controllers may have secret messages hidden inside them

Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell revealed that new Oculus Touch controllers will be released to customers with secret messages accidentally hidden inside them. Mitchell apologized for the mistake and vowed that it will not happen again.
Gaming

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last couple of years, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.
Social Media

Facebook’s tributes section serves as an online memorial for deceased users

Death doesn't stop Facebook users from sharing memories, and now those memorialized posts have a dedicated spot on the network. Facebook Tribute is a section on memorialized profiles for users to write posts and share memories.
Social Media

How to protect yourself from GoFundMe scams before donating

Can you spot a GoFundMe scam? While the fundraising platform says scams make up less than a tenth of one percent of campaigns, some do try to take advantages of others' charity -- like a case last year that made national news.
Social Media

Your Facebook newsfeed is getting a spring cleaning, and so is Messenger

Hows that newsfeed looking? Facebook has shared an update on efforts to clean up the newsfeed, as well as what tools are coming next. Facebook has new Trust Indicators, while Messenger gains badges for verified accounts.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.