This year’s Facebook Developer Conference ‘F8 2019’ kicked off yesterday in California.
Facebook decided to pop the recording of the Day 1 presentations into my newsfeed, so I settled down with a cuppa and my notebook, and I’ll summarise it for you below.
First up was the keynote speech from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, followed by presentations by the various department leaders on the latest in technology for facebook and it’s ‘family of apps’, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.
The main theme was privacy. Zuckerberg jokingly acknowledged that they don’t have the strongest reputation when it comes to privacy, and they certainly want to change that. He wants to make Facebook a ‘privacy focussed social platform’.
He talked about how when Facebook started, it was all about the Virtual Town Square, a bustling space where everything is public. He wants to make people feel that Facebook is also a place for private connections, creating the Virtual Living Room.
The ‘New Look’ Facebook - FB5
There have been 4 major Facebook versions in it’s history, this being the 5th. FB5 is rolling out now in the US and heading this way over the coming weeks.
It’s no longer blue, featuring a cleaner white interface, and the icon has had an upgrade too with scrolling imagery within the F.
The ‘new’ Facebook will have a bigger focus on communities, with a groups tab putting all content from your groups together for you in one place, including suggestions of other groups based on your behaviours in Facebook.
There was also mention of being able to pause the news feed, so you could pick up where you left off! This wasn’t met with as much whooping and cheering as I would’ve expected, but I liked it.
‘The Best Private Messaging Experience’
There’s been talk of this already, but all the messaging apps will be combined, to create what they call ‘the best private messaging experience’. A new word for me, ‘Interoperability’, was used a lot, basically meaning the systems will all work together (and Facebook have control of everything!).
They’re calling the new messenger ‘Light Speed’. They say it’ll be the fastest messenger platform on the planet, and using less battery and less storage than ever before. They’re also creating Messenger for desktop, which will be available on macOS and Windows.
Co-watching videos with friends is a new thing. So you message your friend and say ‘Shall we watch the new episode of Love Island?’ (or maybe something a bit more high brow) and you can watch it together live in messenger.
Within the new messenger, there will be a ‘friends’ tab, which will show facebook posts, Instagram stories, WhatsApp status updates ONLY from your connections with no public content.
In India they’re trialing payments in Whatsapp. They hope that soon it will be as easy to send a payment as it is to send a photo. That’s pretty cool.
Messenger for Business
Over 20bn messages have been sent between people and businesses to date. New features being rolled out for all businesses are appointment booking, including real time availability and reminders, and messenger lead generation templates for advertising, as well as payments within messenger.
More on Groups
They say they’re committed to ensuring that facebook groups are a safe space. They’re making a clearer report function meaning they can remove groups which violate their policies.
Community groups will also have added features to suit the type of group. For example, health support groups will now have an option to ask an admin to post anonymously for you, local selling groups will have a checkout function, and gaming groups will allow instant messaging chats.
Facebook Dating & Secret Crush
Well, here it is. Users can create a dating profile separate to their main profile, and only visible to others who have signed up to Facebook dating. It can match users based on their likes, location, shared groups and events etc. But this is my favourite bit (if I was single of course). It allows you to create a private list of your connections on Facebook, so people you already know - maybe acquaintances, maybe an old friend - that you have a secret crush on. The only way this person will know that you’ve selected them, is if they’re signed up to Facebook dating too and have added you to their list. Then you match, and take it from there!
The instragram feed was barely mentioned. I’ve read previously about a new horizontal swipe instead of the vertical scrolling, but no more was said on this so perhaps it’s been scrapped.
They did talk about the likes being hidden. Instead of seeing how many people like a post, you’ll just see a list of names (you could add them up of course if you wish). The owner of the post will see the like count, but only them. This is currently being tested in Canada, so we’ll see if this ends up rolling out!
The focus was mainly on Stories. Another new word for me, ‘Ephemeral’, meaning lasting for a short time, was used a lot. They speak of this as an added privacy feature, which I suppose it is. People can post freely to stories without the worry that it will could come back and bite them on the backside in years to come (unless someone screenshots it of course, but they didn’t mention that).
The Instagram camera is having an overhaul, with the new ‘create mode’, the focus being that they want to ‘help people tell their stories’. There will also be a new ‘donations’ sticker, meaning you can instantly add your cause to your stories, making it easier than ever for viewers to donate (this was met with much whooping and cheering').
There are a few changes in Instagram shopping. There will now be a shopping experience within explore, the roll out of direct checkout continues with more brands being added, and there will also be the option for creators (celebrities/influencers) to tag products in their feed too.
Instagram and Anti-Bullying
It’s clear that Social Media, and paticularly Instagram need to up their game where this is concerned. They talked about a few new features such as ‘away mode’ which can be activated if the user is going through a difficult time, and a ‘nudge’ system where a user is asked to rethink any aggressive content.
AR & VR
They talked about Augmented Reality in Instagram and opening up the beta? I think that means that developers can create their own filters and stuff? Someone techie might have to correct me on that. It was a lot of developer talk but the shopping stuff did spark my interest…
Then they went on to Virtual Reality and having a virtual disco with your friends all in their living rooms. Not sure I can get on board with all that! Then there was stuff about casting to the TV. I was zoning out by this point, I’ll let the screenshots tell the rest!
There are two new headsets coming out that everyone seemed very excited about. He said they were starting at 3.99, I thought wow - bargs! But he meant $399 of course. He then announced that all the attendees of F8 would be going home with a freebie! Cue much more whooping. They’re called Oculus Rift 5 and Oculus Quest, if you’re interested! Available for pre-order now and shipping from 21st May.
I’d never even heard of this. But they have it in the US already and it’s rolling out to Europe later this year. It’s this smart display screen you have in your home to connect with others, like video calling but so much more ‘in the room’. AR plays a part in this too, Zuckerberg shared a photo of his mum reading a bedtime story to his kids, and his mum doing a roar and her face turning into a wolf. It did look pretty good.
They got excited about this MIB style scanner thing too (more whooping). Exciting I suppose, if you like that sort of thing.
They will have integration with Amazon, so Alexa Skills, and the Amazon Prime video app all in one place. I’m don’t get that excited about tech…but I must admit I do want one!
Summary of the Summary
So in summary; they want to shake off their bad rep when it comes to privacy, and want people to feel safe in their ‘virtual living room’.
My favourite bits;
Pausing the news feed
Payments in messenger
Secret crush (if I was single)
I’m looking forward to the changes, whilst STILL patiently waiting for the music sticker on my Instagram Stories.
What do you think of the changes ahead? Let me know!