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The 6 announcements you don’t want to miss from Facebook F8

Posted: 19 April 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Augmented reality was the focus at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose yesterday (19/04).

In its day one keynote the social media giant announced new products and updates to existing services. Here are the six things you don’t want to miss.

1 Facebook Spaces

The social network’s first virtual reality offering allows you to hang out with friends in the form of a digital avatar.  The digital you can spend time with friends and family in rooms ranging from outer space to a locale via 360-degree video.

Facebook Spaces also allows you to bring in friends who aren’t using VR via Facebook Messenger video chat. Users of Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch can access the new product today.

2 Facebook camera as an AR platform

Sticking with the augmented reality push, CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that he is no longer relying on glasses as the future of the technology. Instead, he wants to “make the camera the first mainstream augmented reality platform.”

Facebook is launching the Camera Effects Platform in beta, a set of AR tools for the camera on your phone or other smart devices.

The first product within the platform, which is already available globally, is Frames Studio, an online creative editor that lets developers create frames for any pictures taken through the Facebook Camera. AR Studio, currently in beta, allows content creators to develop their own masks, filters, animated frames and effects. These custom AR effects can respond to the environment movement and interactions in Live Videos and make those available to users.

If you find yourself double checking that you’re not reading about Snapchat right now then you’re not alone. Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook is late to the AR game which like many other social networks is undoubtedly playing catch up to the filter heavy platform.

3 Facebook Messenger 2.0

With 1.2 billion monthly users, Facebook Messenger Platform 2.0 is designed to strengthen the connection possibilities between businesses and users. The system will feature greater artificial intelligence capabilities including a Discover tab which helps users fin relevant businesses in their area.

Parametric codes are also coming, allowing for one bot to tap into multiple codes (not just QR) through the Messenger camera.

Chat Extensions will allow businesses to chat with multiple people at the same time, bots can also share content to a chat group such as songs through Spotify and Apple Music.

Gameplay in the platform will be boosted through bots and “Rich Gameplay”, you can also challenge your friends from the new Games tab.

4 M digital assistant is getting smarter

The M digital assistant will now be able to make suggestions in your conversations as you type, suggesting a sticker, reminding you of a meeting and nudging you to pay back that friend.

Using AI, M will be able to recognise people and tasks in your conversation which will allow it to make context-based recommendations.

5 Rise of the business bots

Despite users being slow to warm to bots, over two billion conversations are taking place between users and businesses in a single month according to Facebook.

Today it’s introducing smart replies, allowing Pages to answer the most frequently asked questions via the Wit.ai bot.

6 Oculus Rift 2, where art thou?

Whilst no further announcements were made on Facebook’s wireless virtual reality headset, they gave us a teaser on how it would work.

Showing a video of the headset that had previously been shown at OC3, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer explained that the headset relies on computer vision to stay wireless.

Using a technique called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, or SLAM, the headset’s four built-in cameras can detect how the environment around you changes and mirrors movement in the virtual world. No phone, no PC required. It’s all in the headset, which lets you move around freely with no nauseating effects, reported TechRadar.

Though Facebook gave no release date for the headset an unveiling at the Oculus Connect 4 in October 2017 seems most likely.

Watch the full keynote below

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Posted by Facebook for Developers on Tuesday, 18 April 2017

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