Today, Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference, dubbed F8. As is typical for this conference, Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the day with a keynote address.
Looking a lot more relaxed than during the Senate hearings, he discussed how the company is taking a broader view of their responsibility by not only giving people powerful tools, but also making sure those tools are used for good.
Furthermore, he discussed their responsibility to keep building new services that bring people together in meaningful new ways across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus.
Let’s take a look at some of the major announcements made today during the opening keynote. Most of today’s announcements are new user features that will drive the Facebook experience over the coming year.
Tomorrow, the company will discuss the technical details about some of these features and how developers can implement them into their services and platforms.
Privacy – Clear History
Facebook privacy woes have been global news, and while the company was a bit sluggish out of the gate dealing with the problems, it is trying to catch up to gain trust among members.
Today, the social media giant announced plans to build a new tool called Clear History. This feature will enable users to see the websites and apps that send Facebook information when a user uses them.
Most important, it allows a user to delete the information from their account, and turn off the company’s ability to store it associated with the user account going forward. To learn more about this new feature, follow this link here.
Facebook is introducing a new way for people to share from their favorite apps to both Facebook and Instagram Stories.
People already share their interests on the social media platforms, and now they’re making that experience faster, easier and more creative on Stories.
Users just need to tap the share button in an app like Spotify to share what they’re listening to directly into the camera.
From there users can edit and share to their story or feed. There is no need to connect a user’s Facebook or Instagram account to other apps in order to share to Stories.
The company is introducing a Groups tab, which helps users navigate to their existing groups more easily and interact with content from all their groups. Later this year, users will be able to discover and join new groups through the tab.
The company is building a feature for dating and relationships within the Facebook app. People already use Facebook to meet new people, and Facebook wants to make that experience better.
People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile — and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends.
User’s will have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events. However, what people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends.
The company said it will provide more details later in the year, certainly with all the privacy issues surrounding them, they need to make sure they get this one right.
Last year Facebook announced Crisis Response, a center on the platform where people can get information about recent crises and access Safety Check, Community Help and Fundraisers.
Today the company is introducing a feature that will enable people affected by a crisis to share firsthand accounts of timely information, like road closures and damage photos and videos, making it easier to get real-time updates.
The feature will be rolling out later this year.
Facebook recently launched a new feature for people in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to register as blood donors on Facebook. The company believes that donors want to step up to help their community, but often don’t know when or where to donate.
So today, they announced Blood Donations on Facebook to make it easier for people who want to donate to find opportunities nearby.
In a few weeks, people in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will be able to view nearby blood donation camps, requests for blood donations and blood banks from one place on Facebook.
AR Camera Effects for Instagram
Last year at F8 Facebook announced the AR camera platform, and today they brought it to Instagram.
Using AR Studio, creators will be able to design unique, interactive camera experiences, including face filters and world effects, for their followers on Instagram.
It sounds a lot like more advanced camera features are rolling out to further compete with Snapchat’s new AR features.
Video Chat on Instagram
The company announced video chat, a new way people can use real-time video to connect, even when they can’t be together.
Video chat will be available in Instagram Direct and will empower both one-on-one and group conversations.
New Explore on Instagram
Instagram redesigning Explore to make it easier to discover things users are interested in.
The new Explore will organize suggested content into relevant topic channels, making it easier than ever to browse across user interests, while going deeper into any specific area.
Video chat and the new Explore are both testing now and will soon be rolling out globally. Read more in Instagram’s blog post here.
WhatsApp Group Calling and Stickers
Voice and video calling are very popular on WhatsApp, and the company stated that group calling will be coming in the months ahead.
Stickers are also coming to WhatsApp soon.
There wasn’t much news on the WhatsApp front. And it sounds like they are just adding a few features from other platforms they own to “update” WhatsApp a bit.
AR for the Messenger Platform
Facebook is launching the ability for brands to integrate AR camera effects into their Messenger experience. This feature, launching in closed beta, helps people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, and more.
Developers will be able to build experiences that let people virtually customize or try on merchandise, walk through new products, or simply express themselves in a fun way.
M Translations for Messenger
The company also announced that buyers and sellers in Marketplace, a place on Facebook to buy and sell things locally, will be able to communicate across languages with M suggestions for translations.
Now when people who connect through Marketplace receive a message in a language that is different from their default language in Messenger, M will ask if they want to translate the message.
At launch, translations from English to Spanish (and vice-versa) will be available in Marketplace conversations taking place in the U.S.
Facebook plans to expand this feature and gradually roll out M suggestions for translations to people using Messenger in the U.S. in the coming weeks. Learn more here.
Bringing VR Mainstream
- Oculus Go is Available Now: Oculus’ first standalone VR headset is available globally today, starting at $199 USD. With more than 1,000 apps, games and experiences available at launch, Facebook claims there’s never been an easier way to jump into VR than with this all-in-one headset.
- New Apps for Shared VR Experiences: The company introduced new ways to experience VR with friends and connect with a user’s favorite entertainment. Oculus Venues is a user’s ticket to live social events in VR including concerts, sports and comedy nights with friends and thousands of other people.Oculus Rooms, originally released for Gear VR, has been redesigned with the launch of Oculus Go and lets friends play board games, watch movies and more.Oculus TV gives users a virtual big screen TV, where they can watch live or on-demand content and will allow up to four people to watch together starting this summer. Oculus Venues and Oculus TV launch later this month.
- More Immersive Ways to Share: Recently, Facebook introduced 3D posts and today, they announced that people will soon be able to take 3D objects from News Feed into Facebook Camera AR experiences with one tap.The company also announced 3D Photos are coming later this summer. This is a new media type that lets people capture 3D moments in time using a smartphone and share on Facebook.
For those who want to watch the full keynote showing off the new features, here is the full nearly two-hour Keynote from today.
For eCommerce, the biggest potential implications may be around marketing. By developing a clear history feature, it will likely water down the demographic data so many markers have relied on for target marketing.
Of course, much of this will depend on how many users actually delete history and stop Facebook from generating new history that defines their “demographic profile.”
AR for Messenger and Instant Translation on Messenger could offer some interesting features for eCommerce businesses. Both of these are in early stages, so until there is a product to look at, it’s hard to know how well they may integrate into a daily workflow.
Some interesting ideas could be developed for Oculus VR headsets that could benefit eCommerce. But it doesn’t sound like Facebook is going down that path yet.
Last year we were dazzled with lots of possibilities to incorporate augmented reality using everyday smartphones. Nothing of note has really materialized that has any value to eCommerce today.
It seems that Facebook is positioning Instagram a little as a pseudo marketplace.
The company has expanded the API to allow for more shoppable posts with major cloud-platform eCommerce platforms and the new Explore on Instagram features could bring some “categorization” to the platform.
eCommerce merchants should definitely keep an eye on Instagram as it appears to widen its features to implement marketplace style features.
What do you think about some of these announcements and how they may impact eCommerce businesses? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.
Note: Post was updated on May 15, 2018 for clarifications.