At Facebook’s annual F8 conference, which officially kicks off in San Jose, California, on April 18, expect the social media giant to focus on the potential of augmented reality, a more powerful Messenger, and how the platform is tackling fake news and violent videos.
It’s the first conference since founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a 10-year roadmap for the company last year, focusing on technologies that will completely transform the way we use the platform. It will be the third year in a row that Facebook has held the conference, after taking a few hiatuses since launching the event back in 2007.
This year’s conference is expected to kick off with a keynote from Zuckerberg where he will unveil new Facebook products and talk about the social network’s plans for the future followed by yet another keynote on Wednesday, including more than 45 different sessions.
Until then, here’s our preview of what to expect at the highly anticipated conference. And as soon as it kicks off at 10 a.m. (PST) on Tuesday, we’ll keep you on top of all the action with live updates.
Expect a big focus on AR and its potential to completely change how we use our smartphones when we shop, travel, and play games. “Think Pokemon Go but on steroids,” notes USA Today, adding that Facebook’s AR lenses (glasses or contact lenses) won’t likely be available for a few years, but that the company is working to incorporate the experience into our phones as much as possible and in some unexpected ways for the time being.
Facebook is likely to reveal more about some new features for Instagram, such as a Camera Effects Platform that allows you to add photo and video overlays and a Places Graph that enables developers to use Facebook’s location database. Per the description for the session focusing on the latter: “Power your app with the Places Graph. We’re providing free access to the same place data that powers Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Learn how to use data in about 140M+ places around the world to create location aware app experiences.”
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that its Messenger service has reached 1.2 billion users. The social network is expected to launch a few new Messenger features during this year’s conference, including new chat bots for group conversations, reports TechCrunch. The bots would likely be less chatty in nature than their predecessors and instead provide information pertinent to the group such as current sports scores or stock prices.
One thing we’ll definitely see a lot of at this year’s F8: virtual reality. Since its last developer conference, Facebook has made huge strides in terms of 360 video and virtual reality experiences, now allowing 360 video and photos to be shared on the site. In March, Facebook took things a step further and introduced Facebook 360 for Gear VR.
There are eight different VR-related sessions at this year’s conference, which represents almost 20% of all the breakout sessions. Topics for those sessions include tips on creating compelling narratives in VR, building cross-platform VR content, and adding social components to your VR apps, signaling how important it is for Facebook.
Fake News And Violent Content
Given this weekend’s tragedy in Cleveland, when a man recorded and uploaded to Facebook a video of him apparently shooting a man to death and then confessing to the murder on Facebook Live, the use of the platform to broadcast such violence is sure to be addressed by Zuckerberg in his keynote. It is likely that he will announce some new ways to speed up the removal of such content from the platform. Facebook has also come under fire for the role that “fake news” played in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the company has rolled out a number of programs to help users spot and report such stories. And at the conference we might hear more about further steps the company is taking to monitor the reliability of news on the social network.
Facebook At Work
Earlier this month Facebook made its Workplace feature free to use. Originally a paid service, the Slack competitor of sorts now works on a freemium model in which users pay to use certain features. Called Workplace Standard (the paid version is Workplace Premium), the product was in a testing phase when it was announced in early April. Come F8, Facebook might be ready to roll it out to the general public.
Last year Facebook acquired Wit.ai, a company that allows developers to create text or voice-based interfaces, among other things. With the proliferation of personal assistants and voice controls over the past year, particularly the prevalence of Amazon’s Alexa, now might be the perfect time for Facebook to show off some new voice features of its own. One place ripe for voice support: Facebook’s personal assistant “M” which was announced, but has yet to become available to most Facebook users.