VR, dating, and privacy: 5 key announcements from Facebook's F8 event
Facebook just made a host of announcements at its annual F8 developer conference, reaching almost every corner of the Facebook empire: Oculus, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and several other apps have all been given updates. Here are the five most important stories to come out of the event so far.
1. The Oculus Go is now on sale for $199
In terms of hardware, it's on the level of the Gear VR from Samsung or the Daydream View from Google. With the Oculus Go though, there's no need to slot in a smartphone – it already has mobile components fitted inside.
With a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution and a 60 Hz or 72 Hz refresh rate, the Go offers good-quality VR images, but not the graphics or processing power of the top-end headsets. On the plus side, you don't need to plug it into a PC, and it's much more affordable.
2. Facebook is getting into dating
Facebook is launching a dating service, designed to use its smart algorithms to match up singles with potential partners through the social network. It's very much opt-in though, and won't suggest matches between people who are already connected as friends.
Interested parties will be able to create a customized dating profile separate from their current profile, and none of this potentially embarrassing dating activity will show up in places like the News Feed.
Facebook says groups and events will feature prominently, giving singletons more opportunities to mingle and meet new people online and offline. The service is scheduled to start testing later this year.
3. Facebook will soon let you wipe some of your social media slate clean
Facebook has never been under greater scrutiny when it comes to how it handles user data, and it's introducing a new feature for users called Clear History. It works a bit like clearing out your web browser's history, only in this case it's some of your Facebook activities.
"This feature will enable you to see the websites and apps that send us information when you use them, delete this information from your account, and turn off our ability to store it associated with your account going forward," says Facebook.
In other words, you'll be able to start with a new slate on Facebook whenever you like, but only in regards to information stored outside of Facebook by other sites and apps – at least to begin with, anyway. The new tool is going to be developed over the next few months before a full launch.
4. Facebook Messenger is getting a cleaner look
In recent years, Facebook has been piling extra features, games, and apps into its Messenger apps, but today it announced something of a reversal. Messenger is about to get cleaner and faster, with a renewed focus on the actual instant messaging.
Some of the menus and screens are getting simplified, with fewer options and tabs to work through. A new night mode is also going to be added to Messenger on Android and iOS, to reduce the strain on your eyes when you're catching up on your conversations in the dark.
Messenger isn't going completely back to basics though. New augmented reality filters will be introduced to liven up images and video, and built-in translations are also on the way, though those two new features will only be available to businesses to begin.
5. Facebook is still pushing Stories
Stories are the hip new way to share on social media: they originally went mainstream in Snapchat, before Instagram and Facebook decided to borrow the idea, and both apps are getting easier ways to share to Stories in the future.
Two examples mentioned by Facebook were Spotify and GoPro – users will be able to send clips straight to Instagram and Facebook Stories from inside those apps, so you can quickly share what you're listening to, or some action footage you've just transferred.
Plenty of other tweaks and improvements are coming to Facebook and Instagram too, including a more prominent position for Groups inside Facebook, and new video chat functionality built into the messaging part of Instagram.