On April 12th and 13th, Facebook held their F8 developers conference and unveiled a variety of products such as chat bots and updates to Messenger, a design for a 3D-360 camera called Surround 360, and the ability to share quoted text directly to Facebook. Below I touch on some of the impressive tools and features that Facebook discussed at F8.
Imagine taking a selfie in virtual reality. That’s exactly what Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer demonstrated at F8. Facebook calls it social VR, or connecting people two or more people in a virtual world.
Schroepfer used an Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch controllers with Michael Booth who did the same 30 miles away at Menlo Park. In virtual reality they were able to chat, draw, and even experience London as digital avatars by picking up a virtual 360 photo sphere and transporting to London inside the 360 image. Booth and Schroepfer also took a selfie, which you can view on Booth’s Facebook page along with his thoughts on social VR. According to Booth, “This is just the beginning of our exploration into how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology.”
Of course these features aren’t released publicly yet as there are still many obstacles to overcome. The avatars need improvement to make them a better representation of the individual, and the equipment to operate virtual reality is highly expensive. Facebook’s engineering and research teams are also “working to improve the tracking, optics, and audio technologies that make VR feel so real.”
Video Profile Photos
Last year, Facebook began allowing people to use a video in place of a profile photo, but now it is releasing a tool that will allow video apps to make one for you. Apps like Vine and Boomerang will let you capture video and send them directly to Facebook to use as your new profile photo.
The tool, called the profile expression kit, will be available for developers to integrate into camera apps. The closed beta launched Tuesday with support for six apps: Boomerang by Instagram, Lollicam, BeautyPlus, Cinemagraph Pro by Flixel, Lollicam, MSQRD, and Vine. Hopefully this new tool will help make this feature more popular.
Facebook is releasing an API for Facebook Live, its new live-streaming video feature, so developers can build live Facebook video into their apps. It also will make it possible for device manufacturers to use Live with their existing video products, and media organizations will be able to incorporate Live into their broadcast setup. Its first publishers are Livestream, BuzzFeed, Vidpresso, and DJI.
You can read about all of the new tools from F8 2016 here.