Every year, we look forward to the updates and innovations Facebook will announce at their annual F8 Conference. It’s no surprise that some of the most exciting news in emerging tech springs from this event, given Facebook’s investment in continuing to engage their scaled audience. As day two of F8 kicks off, we wanted to highlight a few of the notable takeaways coming out of what we saw on day one.
Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
If there is one theme evident at F8 so far, it’s that VR and AR are here to stay – and Facebook is going to make sure of that. The launch of Spaces, a new social VR app for Oculus, is one reflection of this. While it may seem reminiscent of Second Life with heavy emphasis on animated avatars in promotional content, Spaces provides a new utility that we haven’t seen so readily available in VR before. A few of the use cases highlighted include remotely showing an apartment and enhanced group video chat with the ability to emboss text and images on environments. Additionally, Facebook is bringing AR to the masses by removing any barrier to entry. AR will now be accessible through the use of your pre-existing phone camera coupled with the Stories feature announced last month. With the added launch of AR Studio, we can expect to see developers flocking to create content for this new, experimental platform that could potentially position it as a more engaging space than that created by Snapchat.
Bots & Messenger
Facebook is doubling down on Messenger, ensuring it becomes a hub that transcends chat with the release of version 2.0. Expanding available tools for businesses to engage customers through bots underscores the transition toward Messenger becoming even more of a standalone platform. The Platform Design Kit resource and newly announced Smart Replies now make it easier for businesses of any size to have a presence on Messenger. With 65 million businesses already on this platform, it’s no surprise that a Discovery feature was announced to bring a directory-like tool to findings these bots. With the bot space becoming increasingly popular, we see this as an opportunity for Facebook to feature the “best of the best”, similarly to how Apple has gone about app features and search optimization in the App Store.