The Future of Facebook: what we learned from the F8 Conference

f8 hands visual

Facebook's annual event has evolved: what began as a means of communicating with developers and industry professionals has become an opportunity to introduce the world to The Great Zuck's vision of the future. Here's our digested version of last week's San Jose geek-out.

Augmented Reality

The star of the show is augmented or enhanced reality which, according to Facebook, "is going to help us mix the digital and physical in all new ways."

Zuckerberg means that you'll be using their camera to paste an augmented layer over your pictures. The potential applications for this concept range from the practical (overlay images from a run with your pace and time) to the dismal – superimpose a second coffee cup to your image while having a webchat, "so it looks like you are not having breakfast alone".

Messenger

Facebook wants its second biggest product to become more deeply embedded in our everyday lives – like the Chinese messaging app WeChat, which is used for activities like paying bills, playing games and making introductions between strangers.

In the same vein, you will also soon be able to browse Apple Music's library via Messenger and send songs to friends. This alliance between Facebook and the notoriously uncollaborative Apple shows that both companies are willing to join forces to build their audiences.

Workplace

Unfortunately for indie darling Slack, Facebook are pushing hard on professional networking. Whereas in the past the $3 per user fee has discouraged smaller companies from using the service, now Facebook Workplace will be free to anyone that wants it. Word is, Facebook plans to obliterate its rival.

Meanwhile, back in the real world...

Shortly before the conference, Steve Stephens shot Cleveland retiree Robert Godwin and posted a video of the killing on Facebook. On stage, Zuckerberg briefly extended his sympathy to the victim's family and promised to "do all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening".

While Zuck knows that Facebook has work to do in tackling the abuse of its platforms, he's not really talking about it. These new features are exciting, but Zuckerberg needs to tell us how he plans to combat the exploitation of his products if he hopes to move to move the Facebook brand forward.

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