Facebook's F8 conference may be aimed at developers, but it's when the company announces some of its biggest news of the year and previews services and features that all of its users are going to see over the coming months. We're reporting live from the event in San Francisco. You can follow along here for all of the updates.
Apr 18, 2016
Facebook Messenger's David Marcus on the rocky rollout of bots
The search for the killer bot is well underway in Silicon Valley — but it’s off to a rocky start. Microsoft’s big push into artificial intelligence began with Tay, the teen-mimicking chatbot that Twitter users turned into a crazy racist in record time. Facebook’s introduction of bot-building platform this week at its F8 developer conference went more smoothly. But early adopters have complained about the bots’ mysterious user interfaces, their aggressive messaging, and the fact they don’t seem all that much smarter than a Microsoft Office wizard from the 1990s.Read Article >
Apr 12, 2016
The Livestream Mevo is the first camera that works with Facebook Live
Facebook just announced at its F8 developer conference that it's opening up access to Facebook Live, and the first standalone camera that can directly integrate with the streaming service is Livestream's Mevo.Read Article >
Livestream announced the Mevo, its first consumer camera, back at CES. (It was called Movi then; the company presumably had to change it on account of Freefly's Movi line of camera stabilizers.) It's a small cylindrical camera with a wide angle that can shoot 4K video, but the power really comes from its software. The Mevo can split the 4K image into multiple (and separate) 1080p video feeds, and the accompanying app allows users to live edit between those feeds. It is essentially a low-budget replacement of a multi-camera live-streaming setup that fits in your pocket.
Apr 12, 2016
Facebook will let Vine and other apps shoot video profile pictures
Apps like Vine, Instagram's Boomerang, and Facebook's MSQRD will soon have buttons that let them send videos you capture directly over to Facebook, where they'll be put in place as your new profile image. Other apps will be able to support this too. "If you're building a selfie cam app ... you can plug this in seamlessly to Facebook," says Chris Cox, Facebook's chief product officer.Read Article >
Facebook is calling its new tool the "profile expression kit," and it's being made available to developers of camera apps so that they can start adding this integration. It's a small feature — most of these apps integrate with Facebook in one way or another already — but it'll certainly make adding a profile video much easier than it's been in the past and maybe even make more people aware that profile videos exist.
Apr 12, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg says augmented reality glasses are 'what we're trying to get to'
Mark Zuckerberg is optimistic about the future of virtual and augmented reality. At his Facebook F8 conference keynote, Zuckerberg said that the company was working on "a whole new set of social experiences" across VR platforms, echoing an announcement the company made earlier this year. "Virtual reality has the potential to be the most social platform, because you actually feel like you're right there with another person," he said, referencing an Oculus Rift "toybox" demo that lets two people play together in VR. But in the coming decade, Zuckerberg sees a progression that many people have predicted: that virtual reality will merge with augmented reality and become part of everyday life.Read Article >
Palmer Luckey, inventor of the Oculus Rift headset that Facebook acquired in 2014, has previously predicted that augmented and virtual reality headsets will merge into a single piece of hardware that people carry around or wear like a pair of glasses. Granted, that's going to be harder than it might sound. Right now, virtual and augmented reality headsets use fundamentally different visual technology, and it's difficult for a pair of small glasses to block out the outside world the way a VR headset can.
This is Facebook's gorgeous, open-source 360-degree video camera
Hoping to dramatically increase the amount of 360-degree video on its platform, Facebook today unveiled a reference design for a high-end video capture system and announced plans to release it as an open-source project on GitHub. Shaped like a flying saucer, Facebook Surround 360 uses a 17-camera array and accompanying web-based software to capture images in 360 degrees and render them automatically. Facebook says the design solves a variety of technical problems with 360-degree video capture better than anything now on the market, and is encouraging manufacturers and hobbyists to use its designs to build cameras of their own.Read Article >
Apr 12, 2016
Facebook will now let any camera stream to Facebook Live, even a DJI drone
At the annual F8 developer conference today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be releasing an API for its live-streaming video feature. This will allow developers to build live Facebook video right into their apps. To demonstrate, Facebook showed off a DJI drone, live-streaming an aerial shot of Zuckerberg directly to the social network. It briefly hovered onstage next to the social network's founder and chief, who waved nervously before wishing the aerial robot goodbye.Read Article >
DJI introduced live-streaming to its drones in the summer of 2015 with the release of the Phantom 3. But that capability only worked with YouTube and and its Chinese equivalent, Youku. Pilots will now have a third option, and it will be a platform with a massive and rapacious audience. Facebook has been pushing live video into people's news feeds, and streams from publishers and celebrities have been getting hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers and tens of millions of total views.
You can now share quoted text directly to Facebook
Every social network eventually becomes home to screenshots: important nuggets of textual wisdom that, for whatever reason, are more convenient to capture as an image than they are to transcribe and post elsewhere. The practice is particularly popular on Twitter, where BuzzFeed's Mat Honan christened them "screenshorts" — a way of highlighting text that gets around Twitter's 140-character limit. Facebook is much more generous on that front — you can post updates of more than 60,000 characters there — but the company still sees plenty of screenshots anyway. Today it's introducing quote sharing, a feature developers can use to enable native sharing of quotes from their apps onto Facebook itself.Read Article >
Facebook's new login tool lets developers sign up users with just a phone number
In October 2014, Twitter introduced Digits, a way for developers to sign up users with just a phone number. Particularly in developing countries, where some users may not have email addresses, a phone number-based login can spur rapid growth. As an added benefit, it avoids most of the pitfalls associated with password-based logins — it's much harder to steal a phone number than it is a password. Digits is part of Fabric, Twitter's suite of developer tools, which announced last week that it is now running on 2 billion devices. Maybe that's why Facebook copied it. Say hello to Facebook Accounts!Read Article >
Facebook's buried Save feature has 250 million users a month, and a new button to help it spread
It's been almost four years since Facebook introduced "save for later," a way for storing articles, videos, and other things you find in the service in a dedicated part of the app. But your list of saved items has never had a prominent place in Facebook's apps — to access it, you must first tap the dreaded "more" button, then scroll halfway down the list of options. And yet despite its relative obscurity, Facebook says 250 million people take advantage of the save feature every month — and the company has a new strategy to make that number grow.Read Article >
Apr 12, 2016
Messenger and WhatsApp process 60 billion messages a day, three times more than SMS
Facebook's Messenger app was the company's fastest-growing platform in 2015, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said earlier today at the annual F8 developers conference, and is the second most popular app on iOS globally, just behind Facebook.Read Article >
At last year's F8, Facebook Messenger was said to have 700 million monthly active users. In January, that number hit 800 million. Now, a few months later, it has ballooned to 900 million monthly users.
Facebook launches a bot platform for Messenger
The bot era has officially begun. In a widely expected move, Facebook today announced tools for developers to build bots inside Facebook Messenger, bringing a range of new functions to the popular communication app. Facebook believes Messenger can become a primary channel for businesses to interact with their customers, replacing 1-800 numbers with a mix of artificial intelligence and human intervention. If they are embraced by the general public — which is still far from certain — bots could represent a major new channel for commerce, customer support, and possibly even media.Read Article >
Apr 12, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg attacks Donald Trump in speech about Facebook’s future
Mark Zuckerberg gave an impassioned opening speech at Facebook's F8 developer conference keynote today, lambasting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his supporters for fostering a culture of fear in the US. Though he did not name Trump directly, Zuckerberg referenced the candidate's position on immigration and the infamous call to build a wall between the US and Mexico. The Facebook CEO says fighting against this mentality is an integral part of his company's 10-year roadmap to "connect the world."Read Article >
Of course, Zuckerberg wasn't just taking aim at Trump. He was calling out oppressive regimes who crack down on social networking tools like Facebook, and governments who wield access to the internet as a weapon against dissidents. Yet his comments about the current atmosphere surrounding the US presidential race were the most pointed. It was quite clear in these first few minutes whom the executive was speaking about without naming names.