Here’s what Facebook launched at F8 last month. Why does it matter? Because Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world, so what they do is important as it gives us an insight in to tech developments that will affect all of us.
The Facebook team has been particularly busy this last year or so, with masses of updates and changes to the platform and it’s functionality. They clearly have a firm eye on tech development and trends.
Typing with telepathy
Facebook’s R&D team is working on a direct interface between the brain and computer, allowing thoughts to be typed, without actual any manual typing taking place. Early stages, but the goal is to enable you to type at 100 words a minute by telepathy.
No more excuses for writer’s block, then…
Hearing through your skin
You what now?! Sort of makes sense though – the skin contains billions of nerve endings and people can already read by using touch (braille) so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Apparently the R7D team have already taught a test subject to identify nine different words through haptic feedback from a wearable sleeve. Finally wearables seem to be coming in to their own.
Surround 360° cameras to be licensed
Facebook launched two version of their 360° cameras at F8. There’s a large and a small version, both shoot in 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), and both will be available for licensing. The thinking is to accelerate 360° surround technology adoption worldwide, and to do that they need to bootstrap the creative community.
“Part of what we are doing with the ecosystem, and the camera itself, is giving these tools to content creators so they can start to develop this artistic language,” explained Brian Cabral, Facebook’s director of engineering.
AR camera-effects developer platform
In other words, they are launching a large-scale assault on Snapchat by inviting developers to apply to the closed beta of the AR testing lab. Within this they will be given free range to create augmented reality effects, such as selfie masks, overlay reviews on restaurant fronts, create interactive games, etc.
The real takeaway here is that Evan Spiegel may yet regret not selling up to Facebook.
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Facebook Workplace takes on Slack
Updates to their enterprise business tool makes it look more professional and brings it more in line with Slack’s seamless integration, including file sharing, bots and compliance and governance tools.
“Workplace wants to be the app that connects everyone,” said Julien Codorniou, vice president of Workplace.
Messenger got a whole heap better
You can now add apps to group chats, so a playlist from Spotify perhaps, or book group flights on Kayak. You can also play games, and there’s a search function for both apps and games (find it bottom left on your screen – white cross in a blue circle).
QR codes within Messenger have been upgraded and can now do all sorts of clever VR stuff. At a concert or event, for example, you might be able to scan a code in the physical environment (say in the stadium) that triggers a food delivery or shows you merchandise to buy.
Finally, and perhaps, most significantly, brands can now advertise straight to people who have already interacted with their brand page directly in the Messenger app. The sponsored posts can only contain a single image and link, and they can’t be modified to run simultaneously on Facebook and Instagram, but still, it opens up a whole new world of interaction between client and supplier.
VR apps got a significant leg up
Their Android app is now being crowdsourced
Facebook’s now opensourcing Litho, the tool that it uses internally to build its Android app. The idea behind this is to develop it better, and more quickly.
Instagram now works offline
While it isn’t seamless (you can only browse the pictures & videos you previously loaded, and any interaction gets added later when you reconnect), it’s loads better than not being to get on it at all.
How we wish the good people at Pinterest would follow Facebook’s lead on this one.
Any site can use Facebook for account recovery
As long as the website is signed up, you can use Facebook to verify your account and regain access to the other site. Yes, we know it’s another brick in Facebook’s ongoing campaign for world dominance, but it’s still pretty handy and we bet you end up using it…
Opensourcing AI framework Caffe2
Facebook uses Caffe2 artificial framework across the company and it’s now opensourcing it to allow outside developers to build a more powerful and efficient AI system. Hopefully it means we will finally see decent solutions to bullying, safety issues, bad decisions over nakedness versus porn, and – of course – their bête noir, fake news. And it’s sure to trickle down and help other companies too eventually.
Analytics via AI
Facebook insights just got better with the addition of Artifical intelligence, which will help you get the best from your analytics by highlighting the most popular content or important changes. If you manage heaps of pages – as we do – then you’re sure to like the new Omni Channel, using AI, which lets you track everything on every managed page on one dashboard. Personally we know it’ll save us heaps of time.
Virtual Reality Facebook
Finally here’s the reason they purchased Oculus three years ago. By using Oculus technology you can now hang out with a one or two mates in a virtual room, chat, draw and watch 360° videos, make videos on messenger and take VR selfies. All while looking like cartoon versions of yourselves – which you’ll either love or hate.
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