It has been a rough couple of years for Facebook. There have been privacy breeches and even Congressional hearings. But, the annual F8 developers conference kicks off today, so we’re about to hear what’s coming down the road for the company. We expect to hear about everything from software to hardware and security features. Here are the high-notes of what you need to know.
“Today we’re going to talk about building a privacy-focused social platform.” Zuck is aware that Facebook doesn’t have a great track record for privacy. He says that there are wide-spread changes coming on all of the company’s platforms. We’ll go through them one at a time.
Zuck is heavily focusing on private communication instead of the public “town square” content that we’re used to posting on typcial social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram. For Messenger, the company wants to make it faster. Messenger will now exist as a desktop app on Mac and Windows. That means people won’t have to keep a Facebook tab open in a browser if you just want to use Messenger.
Over the next year, Facebook claims it will make Messenger the “fastest messaging app on the planet.” It will be less than 30 MB in size and start in 1.3 seconds, which is considerably smaller and faster than the current version.
Ephemeral content is also coming to Messenger. The idea of self-destructing messages is appealing for people worried that things will come back to bite them later on down the road.
Messenger will also now let users text and video chat with Instagram and Whatsapp users. It’s an interesting move to entangle all these users in a time when some regulators would like to break up the massive company.
When it comes to the bigger “public” spaces like Facebook, the Communities feature will get more attention. The Communities now will be “as central as friends.” The redesigned app will put Communities and groups front and center. The Facebook site redesign will match the app. The News Feed feels a lot less important now with the new look on both platforms.
The new app design is rolling out today for U.S. users.
This focus on Groups is likely going to mean you’re about to get a lot more invitations to groups based around brands. Fewer people cruising the News Feed will mean marketers will have to find new places to share links.
Shopping communities work a lot like eBay now. You can check out through the app, pay for your item, and arrange shipping.
Facebook Dating is coming to the U.S. by the end of the year. It’s an opt-in program that lets you find other people to, um, date. You can now set a “secret crush” on Facebook and if the person you chose adds you as a Secret Crush, it will connect you.
The presentation here starts with shopping. that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. There’s a new shopping channel in Explore and users will now be able to send money directly to creators.
Stories now don’t require you to start with a picture or video. You can pull up a blank canvas and slack stickers and text all over it. There’s also now a donation sticker that lets users to donate directly within the app. Facebook would like as much money as possible moving directly through the app.
The app will soon have less incentive to treat Instagram like a contest. The company is testing a feature that will hide “like” counts from the audience. The update will also downplay displaying the number of followers a person has.
When it comes to security, there are several new features to avoid bullying. When the company notices a comment it thinks might be bullying for instance, it will “nudge” the user and tell them that they’re messing up without banning them. Users can also now put Instagram on-hold if they’re in a “sensitive moment” like the transition to a new school.
Zuck says that Facebook’s in-home video calling device, Portal, has done better than the company expected. In fact, now it’s going global this year and will include Whatsapp video calling so your video chats are encrypted end-to-end.
Augmented reality games and stories are the big new feature here. This is more time than I expected the company to spend on Portal.
There’s now a Portal app that lets you share photos to a Portal device from your phone.
When it comes to VR, we already had a pretty good idea about what was coming after the new Oculus Rift and the Oculus Quest first showed up last year. Oculus Quest is shipping on May 21st, and you can check out our review of it here.
Oculus for Business helps the tech support large-scale deployments. Right now, this space feels more important than the home entertainment stuff, even if it’s not as fun.
The big new feature on Whatsapp is called Product Catalogs. Businesses can show users what they sell so people can browse items. Then, they can send and receive money to buy goods. Facebook is already testing this in India with more than a million users.
Whatsapp seems to be the role model for future Facebook products. It has 1.5 billion users worldwide at the moment.