Since Facebook’s 2017 F8 Developer Conference kicked off yesterday, the social media giant has made a raft of announcements about the new features it has in the works. From advances in augmented reality to virtual assistants, read on for the latest offerings from Mark Zuckerberg and company.
During his keynote, Zuckerberg highlighted various forms of AR technology that could soon appear on our smartphones. He previewed tools that will allow users to place virtual objects in real places, such as a note on a refrigerator or artwork on blank white walls. In one demonstration, he showcased the ability to turn flat images into 3D scenes and overlay directions or set up a gameboard.
Two tools within the Facebook app’s camera are now available. AR Studio is in closed beta, and developers can apply for access to create effects based on object detection (think virtual steam billowing from a cup of coffee). Frame Studio is available to the public and allows users to create their own image filters and overlays.
The company announced the beta launch of a social virtual reality app called Facebook Spaces. If you own an Oculus Rift headset, with the app, you can make a cartoon avatar of yourself, and you and three friends can virtually hang out in just about any setting you can imagine, from Paris to outer space.
For those who have held off downloading the Messenger app until this point, it seems that Facebook is hoping to lure more users with the promise of a more multilevel experience. Messenger will soon integrate the ability to play games such as Words With Friends, and an Apple Music extension is on its way, on top of the current partnership with Spotify. Users can also look forward to a mobile payments function in Messenger for purchases such as event tickets.
M, Facebook’s answer to Siri or Alexa, will now be able to drop into users’ conversations in Messenger. If someone asks a question about what to order for dinner, M can offer suggestions and then launch a window within the app where the user can make a purchase through a third party.
At F8, the company also launched Chat Extensions. Now in Messenger, a chat bot can be a group experience, rather than a one-on-one interaction. For example, a group might use theScore’s bot to follow a game or Kayak’s to make travel plans.
Owing to Zuckerberg’s goal of merging the digital and physical worlds, Facebook and Udacity are partnering to organize meetups in cities all over the country, where developers can learn new skills and work together.