Facebook announced a lot of new products at their annual developers’ conference last night. Here is a quick round up of the key points.
The focus of the event was around augmented reality and virtual reality, with Facebook continuing to develop their offerings in these areas.
Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote, streamed on Facebook Live, was about how the camera has become the first mainstream AR platform as people are already using their phone cameras to augment their photos with text, filters and facial alterations.
Facebook will continue to focus on their camera and associated digital design features with its Augmented Reality Camera Effects Platform which will allow developers to create selfie masks in the same vein as Snapchat filters, but also overlay information onto real world objects – reviews over restaurant storefronts for example.
Facebook also announced a new social VR product called Spaces where you can meet up with friends and chat as an avatar. This is notable because it’s an attempt to turn the solitary technology of virtual reality into a group activity. When you call someone on Spaces they will be instantly transported to your virtual world to interact with your avatar.
Making more of bots
Facebook is home to 10s of 1000s of chatbots, which are busily answering questions, booking flights, and resolving disputes between brands and consumers. Facebook has recognised the lack of searchability of these bots and added a bot discovery tab for bots. It will also try out QR codes which brands can use for bringing people into conversations with their chatbots – something they’ve tried in the past with only limited success.
Facebook continues to challenge professional messaging app Slack with their Workplace offering, announcing more partners at F8 including Microsoft, Box, Quip and Salesforce who will all help to add new features like sharing and file organisation. They will become even more competitive by introducing a freemium pricing model which will allow smaller businesses to use a basic version without paying.
And the social network continues to build on its Messenger platform, which now boasts 1.2 billion users. Users can now add a brand chatbot into a group thread and share the conversation and experience and order food through M (Messenger’s Siri-like AI assistant) on delivery.com. These changes look to be inspired by Chinese messenger competitor WeChat which has managed to embed itself into the everyday life of 800 million people, allowing them to pay for food, book taxis, and do their banking within the app.