Facebook F8 2017 Event Summary & Key Takeaways

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Here is our full summary of Facebook’s Developer Conference F8 2017.

Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage on day one to deliver his opening keynote for the annual Facebook Developer Conference and set the tone for what was the most thought-led and tech-driven F8 to date.

Over the next 48 hours, Facebook then presented a series of keynotes and workshops to showcase new platform features and enhanced digital experiences for Facebook’s 1.96 billion global users.

Development highlights included a new Messenger 2.0 with ‘Smart Replies’, enhanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) experiences and Facebook’s continued investment in delivering immersive AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) experiences to connect people with their environments and other users.

Fortunately, the team here at WePlay followed every keynote as it happened. So to save you time, we have compiled a breakdown of everything you need to know from the 2017 F8 conference.

1. Facebook Messenger 2.0

Facebook unveiled the new version of it’s messaging app, Messenger 2.0. New additions to the platform include increased Messenger Bot capabilities thanks to advanced AI technology. Group ChatBots were launched, enabling groups to have their own digital assistant and a discovery bot function that will enable users to search for and interact with brands. This also opens up the option for Facebook to promote sponsored placements for businesses willing to pay. With 65 million businesses now using Facebook, 100,000 bots and over 2 billion messages sent between bots and people, Facebook wants to help businesses connect with their consumers. Smart Replies allows AI to learn from commonly asked questions and alleviate pressure from small businesses by automatically responding to queries 24/7.

Bot capabilities through advanced AI technology will continue to shape the way in which users seek out relevant information and how they problem solve. As technology is improving in this space, AI comms planning should now be on the radar for any brand or organisation looking to have a meaningful one-to-one dialogue with their customers.

2. Facebook Camera Becomes an AR Platform

Mark Zuckerberg made Facebook’s intent clear, by stating early in his keynote that their camera is going to be a focal point in Facebook’s progression. Their idea is to transform the camera into the first AR platform by allowing developers to build their own AR elements, including selfie masks or overlaying information onto real-world objects and even adding virtual objects to any environment. The camera can detect objects in your view and is able to judge the depth of 2D images converting them into 3D. The technology called Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM), allows motion effects around a specific object and the user to pivot the image while keeping the effects in place.

While the smartphone device allows consumers to remain connected throughout the day, the smartphone camera will become the main facilitator for enhanced interactive and AR user experiences.

3. Live Video and GIPHY

We predicted that live video will feature heavily in this year’s conference and Facebook announced that they will soon collaborate with GIPHY. This will allow users to create gifs from their Facebook Live recording, perfect for turning that moment into a lasting memory.

The rise of creative assets like gifs, filters and frames remind us of the importance of recognising that consumers are now also creators. No longer is the game all about posting great content for users to see, but to help users to create, personalise and share content with the world.

4. AI-Powered Analytics and Insights

Facebook has introduced new ways for businesses to understand the activity of their pages that are driven by automated insights. Facebook has developed a multi-channel dashboard to collate and track all activity in one place. This is Facebook trying to further build the bridge between brand and consumer across their platform mix. When a business feels they are in control of their Facebook activity, they are going to invest further resources in promoting their content.

Facebook is making it easier for users to understand their performance on the platform by harnessing the power of AI to decipher the information automatically. Using AI for analytics is further evidence that it is becoming increasingly important and mainstream for users wanting to seek relevant information and problem-solving.

5. Facebook Spaces, the New VR Platform

Building 8 is the home of Facebook’s products and yesterday we heard about the developments that they have made in VR. Facebook Spaces is a new function that lets up to three friends take a virtual presence and hang out in a variety of settings. The feature is currently only available through their owned VR brand, Oculus, and creates an avatar of the user based on their most recent photos. From there users can chat, draw, and even take VR selfies. If you’re at home and want to connect with relatives, Facebook wants you to spend that downtime on their platform.

Facebook have made it clear they want to own the VR space by providing users with the ability to connect with their friends in a VR presence. It’s also further evidence that it’s time to embrace users as both creators and consumers.

6. Ultra-Connectivity

For everyone on the planet to be connected, Facebook must first give the globe the correct access. Facebook recognises that 4.1 billion people on the planet are not active on Facebook. These are the people Facebook are targeting with the objective of connecting them to the rest of the world.

Terragraph’ is Facebook’s wireless backbone of their connectivity goal specifically designed for highly populated urban areas. Instead of laying expensive and time consuming underground cables, these new features can be mounted on top of telephone poles and provide multi-gigabit high-speed internet.

MMW (Millimeter-wave) set multiple world records for wireless data transfer reaching 36 gigabits per second point to point, over 12 kilometres apart.

Aquila is as cool as it sounds, it’s Facebook’s internet providing drone. Described as a ‘high altitude, long endurance’ vehicle in the sky for providing connectivity in the upper atmosphere.

These technological enhancements fit within their 10-year plan of connecting everyone on the planet. With widespread access to the internet, Facebook will have unprecedented access to over 2/3 of the planet.

7. 360 Degree Camera

Last year with the announcement of the Surround 360, Facebook made it clear that they were committed to enhancing the experience of users wanting to create video content. Yesterday we saw two new additions to the arsenal, with the x24 and x6 camera, which both allow users to move around scenes and experience content from different angles. This technology known as six degrees of freedom brings the feeling of immersion within an experience.

The future of content sharing may well be 360 and 3D video, but for this to happen Facebook will need more creators to utilise the technology. By opening up to other developers Facebook hope they can be a catalyst for rapid expansion of 360 content.

8. Silent Speech Recognition

Facebook announced they had a goal of developing a speech system capable of typing 100 words per minute directly from your brain, that’s 5x faster than typing on a smartphone. It works by decoding the thoughts you have already sent to the speech centre of your brain and is designed to enable communication with the speed and flexibility of voice, but the privacy of text.

This technology is still in its infancy and is a long way from being fully functional, but the potential adaptations are powerful. Imagine integrating with virtual and augmented reality glasses where your ‘brain-click’ answers rather than scrolling on a screen. In a powerful example of this technology, a profound case study showed a paraplegic woman typing at eight words per minute using her brain, which is ‘lightning fast compared to silence’ surely this is where advancements in technology should be heading. 

When it comes to their goal of connectivity, previously Facebook had solely focused on one side of the equation, sharing ideas and content. For the first time Facebook made strides to level the playing field and showcased their advanced ‘skin-hearing’ technology. By adapting the fact that humans can convert physical sensations into thoughts, Facebook have developed a wearable sleeve that connects to the nerve endings that cover your skin. Developed in Building 8, the ‘skin-hearing’ project has successfully taught one test subject nine different words.

This should be Facebook’s first line of defence against anyone accusing them of simply copying Snapchat. Aside from the positive real-life impact this technology could have on users who are hearing-impaired, it also keeps top engineering and developer talent turning to them.

That’s it from us! If you want to discuss any of these new features or how they can be utilised by your organisation – email hello@weplay.co.

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