After announcing plans to reshape Facebook around privacy last month, Mark Zuckerberg used the company’s annual F8 conference to outline more of what that might look like. Zuckerberg opened the conference stating, “The future is private ... So today, we’re going to start talking about what this could look like as a product.” The initiative is still in very early stages, though, and so many of the announcements hint at that direction without actually taking the large steps needed to offer a truly private experience.
Facebook’s F8 developer conference kicked off today, and the company just finished its opening keynote. Its overwhelming theme, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is that “the future is private.” After a year plagued by controversy over whether Facebook is invading its users’ privacy and encouraging social division, it’s pushing hard on helping people connect with close family and friends.Read Article >
During the keynote, Facebook announced updates to Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook’s core service. We also got more news about the Oculus Quest and Rift S virtual reality headsets — and about a new dating feature that could spark some very intense interactions between you and your friends.
Apr 30, 2019
Facebook announced at its annual F8 developer conference today that its Portal and Portal Plus video calling devices will soon be available in Canada and Europe, starting this fall. The device will also support WhatsApp calls, and all calls will have end-to-end encryption.Read Article >
The $199 Portal and the larger $349 Portal Plus launched last year at a time when consumer trust in Facebook was waning after a string of privacy scandals, and the product had to be delayed for several months in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach. Despite this, Facebook shared onstage today that Portal sales have exceeded expectations, and it’s notable that the company is expanding distribution for the product.
Facebook and Oculus have finally revealed a release date for their Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S headsets: May 21st. Both headsets will ship in 22 countries next month, they’ll cost $399, and you can preorder them today.Read Article >
The Oculus Quest is a much-anticipated standalone VR headset that Oculus announced last year. It works without external tracking cameras or a separate computer, using a Snapdragon mobile chipset. The Oculus Rift S is a refresh of the 2016 Oculus Rift; it’s not a “Rift 2,” but an upgrade that replaces the old Rift’s tracking cameras with more convenient inside-out tracking. Neither one is a definite must-buy, but we’ve been impressed by the new Insight tracking system, and Oculus consistently backs some of the most ambitious VR games.
Instagram announced at its F8 developer conference today that it’ll start testing a new feature later this week that’ll hide users’ public like counts on videos and photos. The test will only be in Canada, and likes will be hidden in the Feed, permalinked pages, and on profiles. Instagram says it wants followers to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” Only the person who owns the account will be able to see how many likes their content received.Read Article >
We thought a feature like this might be in the works. Code hunter Jane Wong published screenshots of this test earlier this month, and at the time, Instagram said it hadn’t tested the feature. Now, we can see it was prepping for the test to run after F8. A spokesperson at the time said, “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.”
There’s a new Oculus Rift on the market, and it doesn’t look much like the Oculus Rift.Read Article >
The original Oculus Rift was a fascinating product. Announced in 2012, it played a huge role in making virtual reality seem real, instead of just a retro holdover from the ‘90s. Now, around three years after its consumer release, it’s being replaced by the Oculus Rift S: a modest upgrade with a new look, a few new features, and a $50 price bump.
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app for iOS is about to shrink. The company said today that it is working on a new version of Messenger that will be fewer than 30MB (or about 20 percent the size of the current app). The new version of Messenger, which is expected to arrive later this year on iOS, was rewritten from the ground up, the company said. It should launch in two seconds or under, the company said. There are currently no plans to bring it to Android where Messenger Lite has been available since 2015.Read Article >
The move represents Facebook’s latest step to return Messenger to its lightweight roots. After years of expanding into bots, payments, games, and areas, the app had become cluttered and slower to navigate than rivals like iMessage and Signal. It grew so large that it was unusable in countries where data is still prohibitively expensive, leading Facebook to introduce Facebook Lite on Android. Last year, the company introduced a redesign intended to streamline the app.
Instagram is announcing a couple of new features today that are designed to make the app more appealing to influencers, creators, and online business owners. It’s part of a broader shift within the company to position its photo-sharing app, which is now used by more than 1 billion people every month, as a kind of Facebook replacement. Younger users have for years been leaving the main app for greener, more hip pastures, and Facebook seems to recognize that Instagram is now at a scale and level of cultural ubiquity that it can begin carrying the torch — at least partially.Read Article >
The first new feature, announced today at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, is a redesigned camera with what Instagram is calling Create Mode. The new mode will make it easy to build a post from scratch without needing to upload an existing photo or video, which is an especially appealing proposition for ardent Stories fans who’ve built big audiences using the Snapchat-style format. The second new feature is dedicated shopping tags that will let any influencer, artist, or celebrity tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy that item on the spot, all from within Instagram.
According to Google, the term “VR for the masses” dates back to at least 1994 when it referred to the Nintendo Power Glove and Sega 3D glasses. Several systems have taken the mantle since then, including the groundbreaking Oculus Rift, which set off a wave of VR enthusiasm in 2012. But it’s 2019, and VR’s acquaintance with the masses is still passing at best.Read Article >
This is necessary context for any review of the Oculus Quest, another headset that’s supposed to give VR mainstream appeal. Oculus’ parent company Facebook is releasing the $399 Quest on May 21st, alongside an updated Oculus Rift model. After spending a week with the device, I’m convinced that the Quest has a lot to offer. In some ways, it might be the best headset on the market. But it’s still hampered with many of the same fundamental shortcomings we’ve seen for years in VR, and its convenient but low-powered design makes it a relatively pricey compromise.
Facebook Dating still isn’t available in the United States. But in the five countries where it launched already — and the 14 more that are joining the service today — there’s a new way to see which friends might be romantically interested in you. “Secret Crush,” as the feature is called, lets you express interest in up to nine friends. If that friend has opted into Facebook Dating and likes you back, they get a notification saying someone likes them. If they pick you as one of their secret crushes, you both get notified.Read Article >
You can add any of your Facebook friends even if they haven’t created a Dating profile, the company said. That could entice more reluctant Facebook users to give Dating a shot — who isn’t curious to see whether a friend secretly likes them?
Facebook’s plans to pivot into private messaging now have a desktop software component. The company said today that it would bring Messenger, its popular messaging client, to Mac and Windows later this year. Facebook made the announcement at its F8 developer conference in San Jose, California.Read Article >
There are far more mobile phones in the world than desktop computers, and the pace of development for computers has slowed accordingly. But for office workers who spend most of their days using a Mac or PC, messaging is a core function, and a dedicated messaging app could keep them inside Facebook’s ecosystem for hours a day.
Facebook announced an overhaul of its main mobile app today that puts more emphasis on two of its most critical features: events and groups. The company says it’s placing groups front and center as a cornerstone of how it wants users to think of the main Facebook app, while events is getting a fresh coat of paint as one of the most-used parts of the app that keeps users coming back day in and day out.Read Article >
“There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook. And today, more than 400 million people on Facebook belong to a group that they find meaningful,” the company said in a blog post. “With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests.”
Facebook’s F8 developers conference is today, and Facebook wants to know: do you like Facebook? The company streamed its keynote on Facebook Watch and in the right corner of the stream, it cycled through various questions all asking if users had changed their minds about Facebook as CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke.Read Article >
Questions included, “How does your opinion of the statement ‘Facebook is good for the world’ change as a result of watching this video?” Users can say they “agree more than before,” that their “opinion has not changed,” or that they “agree less than before.” They can see what their friends voted, too.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he’s committed to turning his company around. Onstage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the chief executive said that privacy will be the defining pillar of his social network’s sprawling empire going forward.Read Article >
His opening statements build on the massive shift in Zuckerberg’s vision for the company that he first outlined early last month when he announced that Facebook would transition away from the News Feed and public posts and toward a “privacy-focused communications platform” that unified its messaging products around concepts like ephemerality and encryption.
Facebook’s developer conference has become a strange affair. Each year in April, the social network convenes a gathering dedicated to its sprawling platform in San Jose, California, for the thousands of companies, creators, and programmers that depend on it. The conference typically includes announcements for new features coming to Facebook’s suite of apps, along with updates on its more experimental efforts in virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence.Read Article >
In recent years, the conference has been overshadowed by controversies related to data privacy, security, moderation, and other topics revolving around Facebook’s struggle to police its platform and reckon with its global influence. Last year, Facebook reportedly delayed the reveal of its Portal video chat device at F8 specifically because the optics of doing so in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal would have resulted in a public relations disaster.
Most of the giant platforms have an easy pitch for developers. Apple developers make apps for iOS and Mac, then sell them for money. Google developers make Android apps and ChromeOS hardware, then sell them for money. Amazon developers launch businesses on AWS or Amazon’s storefront, and then sell goods and services for money.Read Article >
Today Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference kicks off in San Jose, and it’s worth noting how complicated its pitch to developers has become. There once was a time when it was relatively straightforward — developers like Zynga once printed money selling virtual cows through Facebook’s popular gaming platform.