This week, Facebook hosted F8, its annual developer conference where it made a bunch of announcements about new updates in Facebook family of apps, which includes Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook app, and Oculus. This two-day event started on April 30 and was conducted at San Jose, CA.
F8 brings together developers, creators, businesses, partners, and entrepreneurs to network and discuss the future of technology with Facebook and its family of apps. Along with keynotes from Facebook leaders, this event featured sessions, meetups, and demos showcasing the latest in AI, open source, AR/VR, and new tools.
Let’s have a look at some of the key announcements Facebook made at this event:
Updates in Messenger
The Messenger team has overhauled the underlying architecture of Messenger provide users a faster experience. This re-engineered version is planned to come out later this year. Following are some of the features the updated Messenger will come with:
- A feature is introduced that allows users to share Facebook videos on Messenger and invite family and friends to watch them together in real-time.
- The Messenger Desktop app is now available for macOS and Windows users, with which users can have group video calls or collaborate on projects.
- Instagram’s “Close Friends” feature is now coming to the new Messenger for sharing stories and messaging your closest friends and family.
- The team is adding lead generation templates to Ads Manager to allow businesses to easily reach out to potential customers.
Show your business catalog on Whatsapp
Many businesses and customers find WhatsApp a secure and comfortable place to connect and converse. Whatsapp is now making business much easier by introducing a feature for showing business catalog. With this feature, businesses can showcase their products within Whatsapp and also chat with them about the orders.
Redesigned Facebook app
The Facebook app is now revamped with a “fresh new design” and is called the “FB5” version. The design is simpler, faster, and puts the main focus on Groups. The app introduces new tools to make it easier for users to find and interact with groups of people who have common interests and passions.
This FB5 version comes with few tools that make it easier for users to discover new groups that they might be interested in. It has a redesigned Groups tab that shows a personalized feed of activity across all your groups. A new discovery tool will show improved recommendations that allow you to quickly find groups you might be interested in. The team is also working to show relevant group recommendation in other parts of the app as well like Marketplace.
The app will also come with new features for a specific type of group. For instance, Health Support groups will allow its members to post questions and share information anonymously, Job groups will have a new template for employers to post new job openings and more.
Matching with your “Secret Crush”
Facebook Dating, the opt-in service to find your potential matches is now coming to 14 more countries. These include the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, and Suriname.
Facebook Dating will now also support a new feature called Secret Crush with which you can express your interest in someone you like. All you have to do is just select up to nine of your Facebook friends who you want to express interest in. If your crush has opted into Facebook Dating, they will be notified that someone has a crush on them. If your crush also adds you to their Secret Crush list it is a match!
Portal and Portal Plus coming to Europe
After launching Portal and Portal Plus smart displays in the US and Canada last year, Facebook plans to make them available in Europe starting from this fall. Portal will come with support for Whatsapp to allow users make calls to friends who are also using WhatsApp or Messenger on their Portal or on their phone. These calls will be end-to-end encrypted.
Along with supporting video calls, Portal will also come with some AI assistant features. Starting from this summer, to get updates on birthdays, events and more you just have to say “Hey Portal, Good Morning”. You will also be able to send private video messages from Portal to your loved ones. The team has collaborated with Amazon to bring Alexa skills to Portal including Flash Briefings, smart home control and the Amazon Prime Video app later this year.
Oculus Quest and Rift S available for pre-orders
Facebook’s latest VR headsets, Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S will ship on May 21, both priced at $399 USD. Oculus Quest allows you to play almost anywhere with just a VR headset and controllers. Rift S is the PC-powered gaming headset, which is a successor of the classic Oculus VR headsets.
Shop and raise funds on Instagram
Instagram will soon allow users to shop looks shared by their creators without leaving Instagram. You will no longer have to ask for product details in comments or DM, just tap on the picture to see the details and buy it on the spot.
Users can also raise money for any social cause they care about directly on Instagram. You can do this through a donation sticker in Stories and send 100% of the raised money directly to the non-profit you are supporting. This feature is currently available only in the US and will soon be supported in other countries as well.
Read the official announcement by Facebook for more details.