2018 has been a rather eventful year for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, with ongoing struggles regarding social network and piracy, however, that hasn’t held them back from announcing noteworthy product updates at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference.
“We’re investing a lot to address these issues and keep people safe, but we also have a responsibility to move forward on everything else that our community expects from us too. The hardest decision that I made this year wasn’t to invest so much in safety and security, that decision was easy. The hard part was figuring out a way to move forward on everything else we need to do too,” Mark Zuckerberg pointed out in is keynote address.
Let’s quickly go over some of the major highlights from the F8 Conference:
With over 2.2 billion monthly active users, it comes as no surprise that Facebook will be introducing community-focused ‘dating features’ that will recommend you potential matches based on your preferences, mutual friends and interests. Users can opt in to confirm their availability to people outside their friend-circle and start a conversation in a ‘special’ inbox that’s kept separate from the Facebook Messenger.
“We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning. Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends,” Zuckerberg clarified during the announcement. Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook gave a design tour of the dating features and shed light on the possible release date that’s expected to be towards the end of this year.
Facebook’s immediate rival in the online dating continues to be Match Group that owns both OkCupid and Tinder, however it’s important to note that the latter’s stock plummeted by 17 percent after the F8 Developer Conference.
- High-end, professional VR camera and ‘VR memories’
Partnering with camera maker RED, Facebook is developing a professional-grade VR camera technology that can capture high-resolution images in ‘6DoF’ – six degrees of freedom, allowing users to view and explore their photos in real-time VR. According to Brian Cabral who heads Engineering specializing in computational photography at Facebook, the VR camera strives to provide a ‘photon-to-photon’ experience, allowing users to capture videos and images that can be transferred to a ‘stitching’ software that will help create a VR-ready environment.
In additional VR advancement, Facebook also announced ‘VR memories’ that will leverage computer vision to take your old, 2D photos and transform them into spatial point clouds that will give you an ethereal sense of the exact location that they were clicked in. In a rather brief demonstration, Rachel Franklin from Facebook’s Social VR team confirmed that the VR memories feature is like “a Facebook album come to life.”
- Oculus Go launches into the market for $199
Oculus Go, the self-contained, mobile VR headset is now available for purchase in 23 countries. With 32GB storage, Oculus Go can be operated without a smartphone and works as a standalone product. Later this month, Facebook will also be launching the ‘Oculus TV’ app that will allow users to watch Netflix, Showtime and ESPN in VR. In other non-gaming content, Oculus Venues is also in the works, designed specially for sporting events, comedy nights and live concerts.
While the Oculus Go “the easiest way to get into VR,” according to Mark Zuckerberg, it also has all the shortcomings that phone-based VR systems usually do. The Oculus Go can track head rotation but not a full motion. The portable all-in-one VR headset does not include futuristic inside-out tracking or full motion controllers that allow users to lean or walk around.Weighing 468 grams, Oculus Go uses remote control technology with limited pointing abilities, is convenient for iPhone and Android users. With a comfortable split-backed design, the headset is also available in a 62GB variant for $249 and can be ordered with prescription lenses.
- Instagram Video Calling, AR and anti-bullying filters
The redesigned ‘Explore’ page will give users a carousel of ‘interests’ – architecture, animals, photography ad more, to swipe through in order to see all the posts made under that topic. Currently, the Explore page is a getaway for users to discover new content they might like, or brands they might be interested in. Apart from this, Instagram will also be adding a video call functionality to the app, where users can make a video call to one person or a small group of people. The DM thread will feature a camera icon on top to start a video conversation.
Facebook has also partnered with Buzzfeed, Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, Vogue, and NBA to create their own Snapchat-like AR filters on Instagram. For example, using the AR filter you will be able to try on a Kylie Cosmetics Lipstick before making a purchase. Additionally, ‘Stories’ can be integrated with GoPro and Spotify allowing brands to create their custom text styles, filters and stickers.
To combat cyber-bullying, Instagram will undergo an ‘offensive comment filter’ upgrade that will automatically hide divisive and toxic comments. Available in English, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, German, French, Russian Japanese, and Mandarin, the anti-bullying filter will expand to include other languages over the coming weeks, as well.