Facebook's F8 conference took place over the past two days, allowing Mark Zuckerberg to get up on stage in a crew neck sweater and discuss what's happening with Facebook in the coming year. Even though user sentiment has been tarnished by privacy scandal after privacy scandal, Facebook's ridiculous amount of users are still keen to know what's coming from the multi-limbed social network.
We've got the big announcements right here including, uh, Facebook Dating?
Facebook Messenger Gets An Overhaul
Zuckerberg, speaking at the keynote, explained that Facebook wants to "completely redesign Messenger" to focus on a "simple and fast experience".
Facebook Messenger used to live in-app and on desktop as an extension of Facebook, but since pulling it out and making it it's Own Thing, there's an element of what-the-buggery about it. Just this week, an old friend tried to connect to me through Messenger and, having not been Facebook friends, I couldn't even access the message in "Message Requests". It's just become an entirely unfriendly experience for users and with an extensive range of other messaging apps out there, seems like Facebook have wisened up to the fact they've go to keep the user experience front-of-mind.
They also showed off the dark mode and the simplified UI, which certainly does look cleaner, taking away most of the extraneous tabs that clutter the current Messenger app and replacing them with three navigation tabs. Hallelujah.
Facebook are also working on a translation chat feature, focusing on the idea of building relationships and aiding communication as best they can -- an idea they are carrying across all their new features.
Facebook Wants Instagram Stories To Be A Thing
Other than Boomerangs, Instagram Stories have always felt a bit light on features and constantly trying to claw back attention from Snapchat. Now Facebook want to make stories a Real Thing that people actually want to use, by beginning to tie it in to a number of other services such as Spotify.
From today, you will be able to use the share button in apps such as Spotify (and eventually from Facebook Stories, too) to share across to Instagram's stories feature. For Spotify, that will work by chucking a sticker of the album, song or playlist you're currently listening to. It's a strange update in that people already share Spotify screenshots on Instagram Stories all the time and this just takes that extra step out of it. That's a good thing, of course, but it's not ground-breaking - just helpful.
The feature will also work with the GoPro app, allowing you to directly upload to Stories. It shows that Facebook and the 'Gram are committed to Stories as a real Snapchat-killer and the combination of Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories working in tandem a real threat for those up-to-the-minute, reality updates from your friends and acquaintances. Snapchat probably doesn't feel too good about this.
On top of that, video chat is now available through Instagram (though it is rolling out a little more slowly across the globe, so you might not be able to access it yet) and will allow you to chat with a friend or create a group conversation by tapping on the airplane in the top right hand corner and adding people to your chat. Instagram, once a bastion of food pictures and selfies, is being repositioned as a messaging and communication app of its own.
Facebook Clear History
After the internet drowned in Zuckerberg memes post Congressional hearing, Facebook is seemingly happy to prioritise privacy features. One of these will be "Clear History" which will allow you to delete data that has been collected via Facebook's huge suite of analytical software. Wiping that slate clean - according to Zuckerberg - is a similar process to clearing your cookies on a web browser. Will you be using it?
Facebook Dating Wants To Help You Find Your One True Love
"There are 200 million people on Facebook who list themselves as single, so clearly there's something to do here" remarked Zuckerberg, to the relative joy of the keynote audience before announcing Facebook was going to get into dating.
Details remains a little scant, but it will operate in the app as a separate function, like Marketplace currently does and a brief glimpse of the UI showed a vertical with dating profiles of different people and Facebook touched on how it could roll into other Facebook functions like events. For instance, you could share your dating profile with other people attending an event and browse through their profiles from the comfort of that big F app on your phone.
Importantly, you won't have to use it. It's an opt-in feature and, trying to combat the obvious elephant in the room, Zuckerberg made it clear that it was designed with "privacy and safety in mind from the beginning", while noting that it isn't your friends who will see the profile and any recommendations will be outside that circle.
It seems like a smart move that can really combat some of the bigger dating apps like Tinder - and people are no doubt already finding love on Facebook so why not make it a thing? In theory it might help prevent people from just slipping into DMs with vulgar requests for nudes or unsolicited eggplant emojis - though I highly doubt that.
Oculus Go Is Now On Sale
Though a local release has not been specified, the Oculus Go, Facebook's cheap, smartphone-free VR headset went on sale yesterday starting at USD$199. There are two versions, with two different storage sizes: 32GB and 64GB. The headset is said to be lighter than similarly-priced units and, rather than focus on high fidelity and visuals, to be entry-level access to VR. This is more a new-user experience, rather than a new user experience.
Oculus Half Dome
During the second day of F8, the Oculus Half Dome was unveiled, a new prototype that Facebook is building to take make the next big leap in VR. It's designed to allow users to experience more of their virtual worlds by increasing the field of view and improving the depth-of-field capabilities. This hasn't come at the expense of dramatically changing the size or weight of the headset - a crucial factor moving forward.
On Day 1, Zuckerberg -- talking to the developers in the crowd -- announced that Facebook would be reopening app reviews "so you can all keep moving forward". In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica disaster, developers will breathe a sigh of relief after Facebook scrambled to make sure that the correct processes were in place, leaving them in the lurch.