Day one of Facebook's F8 developer conference is done and dusted.
The company wrapped up its keynote, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg doing his best to not only keep developers interested in the platform, but also to prove to consumers that Facebook is focused on privacy. At the same time, he announced several new updates coming to Facebook's product lineup, which includes the main Facebook app, Messenger, Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp.
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Here's all the key stuff that happened during Facebook's F8 keynote this year:
What is F8?
F8 is Facebook's annual developer conference - a multi-day event in which the social network usually announces plans for its key initiatives as well as updates to its products. Last year, for instance, Facebook announced a Tinder-like feature was in the works. It also launched Oculus Go. This year's show is just as exciting, despite the past year of intense security and privacy concerns.
How to watch F8 2019
You can watch the day one keynote, which is still available to stream after the fact, from the Facebook Developer page. We've embedded it below.
What happened at F8 2019?
Facebook's new look
Facebook is getting a massive redesign. Both the desktop website and the mobile app will soon receive a facelift that will hopefully make Facebook easier to navigate. Facebook described it as a much cleaner design, with more of an all-white look. But it looks like it might have a dark mode, too.
This redesign is supposed to put an emphasis on Groups and Events, which have become two of the biggest reasons people visit Facebook on a daily basis. The means the News Feed will be featured less, which is probably good news for users overall. Facebook said the mobile redesign should begin rolling out immediately, while the desktop version should come out in the next few months.
Facebook hasn't had a good year in respect to its users’ data, and clearly, regaining that lost trust is a big priority. Zuckerberg outlined six components that the company is hoping will be a starting point for Facebook: Private interactions, encryption, reduced permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage. But this privacy-focused version of Facebook isn’t rolling out yet.
Zuckerberg said that creating it would take at least another year.
Facebook is adding a new feature, called Secret Crushes, so you can finally see if that friend you’ve been crushing has an interest in you. Unfortunately, Secret Crushes is only available in countries where Facebook Dating is available. That doesn't include the UK or the US.
Meet New Friends
Meet New Friends seems like a redesign of the ‘People you may know' function, but based on your profile data. It's Facebook’s way of introducing you to people that you share online interests with, or a real world connection. It can recommend a person to you based on similar groups you’re interested in, or if you’ve both worked at the same place or went to the same school in the past.
Facebook is putting a new emphasis on Events, by redesigning the Event page layout to make it easier to find things going on near you. There’s a map feature that allows you to see where exactly the events are happening and a calendar that shows you upcoming events. Overall, Facebook said the redesign of the events page should make it easier to find out about all the things happening locally.
Portal goes international
Facebook’s Portal video chat devices have only been available in the US since they were launched months ago, but soon, they will be available to a much larger audience. Canadians will be able to pick up a Portal starting in June. A European launch will follow sometime this autumn.
On top of that, Portal will also get WhatsApp calling and end-to-end encryption on all calls.
Messenger comes to the desktop
Facebook Messenger is getting a dedicated desktop app for both Windows and MacOS. This should make one of the leading messenger apps much more accessible on a desktop. To be clear, this will be different from the standalone Facebook Messenger web app that already exists.
The newest version of Messenger will be shrunk from 70MB to under 30MB. This will allow the app to run faster and open in under two seconds.
While it’s not completely clear how this new feature will work, the Close Friends function on both Facebook and Instagram Stories is getting rebuilt. It’ll be a dedicated tab so you can see close friends and family and easily share photos and moments with each other.
Zuckerberg revealed Messenger will eventually transition to default end-to-end encryption. But there’s no timetable on when that will roll out.
According to Facebook, there are 40 million businesses currently using Messenger, and a new feature being added will allow customers to schedule appointments using the Messenger app. Messenger will let users message businesses in order to make, cancel, or reschedule appointments.
Instagram is more broadly rolling out new tags that will allow influencers to tag an item in a post so that anyone who clicks can buy it through an in-app checkout process. This feature is currently in beta testing but will extend to all “public figures, creators, athletes, publishers, and artists”.
Instagram camera redesign and Create mode
Instagram is getting a camera redesign that makes the filters and camera modes appear in a wheel at the bottom of the screen. There will be new dedicated buttons for broadcasting, too, as well as Create mode, which will allow users to create a post without an image or video connected to it.
Facebook Marketplace shipping
Facebook is trying to turn its marketplace into an Amazon competitor, with new shipping and purchasing features. Users will now be able to make purchases on the Marketplace directly, and Facebook will support shipping to anywhere in the US. Sellers will be able to decide which shipping carriers they’d like to work with depending on their needs, too.
Facebook also spent time talking about Watch Party, a feature it technically announced last year. It allows users to watch videos they find on Facebook together. It's just another way for Facebook to capitalise on the two billion minutes users spend watching videos on Facebook.
Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S
Facebook and Oculus have announced a release date for their Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S virtual reality headsets: 21 May. Both will ship in 22 countries next month for $399 each, and you can preorder them now.
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