Compared to last year’s event, which showed off tech that allowed people to hear through their skin and helicopters that delivered fiber optic cable, this year’s F8 conference was a more subdued affair.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the keynote not with a splashy entrance, but by addressing concerns from developers about how Facebook would work with them going forward, after the company paused third-party app review in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
If you missed the action, never fear — here’s everything Facebook announced at the conference.
During Zuckerberg’s two days of testimony in front of Congress, it was clear that senators and representatives from both parties wanted Facebook to do a better job of helping users understand what data the company collects on them. So Facebook is introducing a “clear history” tool that will allow users to clear information from their account about what apps and websites they’ve visited that use the Facebook Like button or Facebook analytics.
After the news that Cambridge Analytica collected personal Facebook data on an unprecedented number of U.S. voters without their consent, Facebook paused app review, leaving developers in the dark about when they would be able to integrate news apps. Today, Zuckerberg announced that the company is reopening app review.
M Suggestions is getting bilingual — the intelligent assistant will be able to make recommendations in conversations that include both English and Spanish words. Translations by M Suggestions are powered by the same neural network-powered translation engine Facebook uses to translate Facebook and Instagram posts and comments, which now performs six billion translations a day. M Suggestions was previously available in English, German, Spanish, French, and Thai, but this is the first time that M Suggestions will be able to make translations in conversations.
Since launching at F8 two years ago, Facebook Messenger’s bot platform has been used by developers to create more than 300,000 bots. Businesses and customers now exchange 8 billion messages a day on Messenger, up from 2 billion this time last year.
Facebook is partnering with AR/VR publishing platform Sketchfab to give developers access to more than 150,000 3D models available under Creative Commons licensing on its AR Studio desktop app. Sketchfab cofounder and CEO Alban Denoyel said that the integration of Sketchfab’s download API into AR Studio will be the largest integration since Sketchfab released the API a month ago.
Oculus’ hassle-free Go headset — which you can use with no PC connection and no wires — finally goes on sale today in 23 countries. Our own Dean Takahashi reviewed the headset, praising its comfortable, lightweight design and easy setup, while longing for more immersive controllers.
Facebook will soon integrate natural-language processing into Facebook Pages to help businesses or administrators of large pages answer commonly asked questions more easily. Built-in NLP for Messenger bots, which was introduced last summer, can automate the collection of data like date and time, email address, and phone number, and respond to common greetings, so presumably these same capabilities will come to Facebook Pages.
In an unexpected move, Facebook is now taking on apps like Bumble and Tinder with the introduction of dating features. Users will be able to create a dating profile by created by tapping a heart icon that will appear at the top right-hand corner of their user profile. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said people won’t be matched with friends, and your friends won’t be able to see your dating profile. The feature is set to roll out later this year.
Facebook is keen on finding unique ways to partner with apps that will allow users to share more content on their Stories in both Facebook and Instagram, starting with Spotify and GoPro. Users will be able to share a sticker of a song they are listening to, or content they shot on their GoPro, directly in stories. The app integration with Stories is currently in beta. Also unveiled today — a redesigned Explore page for Instagram, filters for content that’s viewed as bullying, and a video chat feature that will be coming soon to Instagram.
Since launching Workplace by Facebook in October 2016, the enterprise chat platform has been adopted by more than 30,000 organizations, including Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic, and Tinder’s Match Group. Now, users will have access to 50 new integrations, including those with platforms like Jira by Atlassian, Microsoft Sharepoint, and Kronos for HR.
Later this month, Oculus will launch Oculus TV, featuring content from ESPN, Netflix, Hulu, and Showtime. Oculus TV will puts users in a virtual living room with a TV screen where they can watch shows together.
Facebook head of social VR Rachel Franklin unveiled plans for a slick new feature that will use artificial intelligence to stitch together VR environments reconstructed from albums of your old photos and videos.
Since launching in 2016, Instant Games has built up a library of games that includes hits such as Zynga’s Words With Friends and arcade classics like Tetris. Soon developers will have the ability to entice players with in-app purchases.
If you’re itching to get an Oculus Go, check out this exhaustive list from GamesBeat reporter Stephanie Chan of all the apps and games Oculus Go that will be launched on Oculus Go.
Cutting-edge video camera maker Red Digital Cinema is partnering with Facebook and Oculus to release a premium VR camera. No pricing or release date has been offered yet.
AI was a big focus of the Day 2 keynote. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer unveiled plans to open-source AI tools including Translate and ELF. Facebook will also release PyTorch 1.0, its open source deep learning framework in the coming months. Schroepfer and other executives also highlighted key milestones that had been hit by Facebook’s AI tools, like the fact that Facebook’s AI now performs nearly six billion translations a day.
Using 3.5 billion publicly shared Instagram photos and their accompany hashtags, Facebook’s computer system has reached an 85.4 percent accuracy rate when used on ImageNet, a well-known benchmark dataset. Facebook director of applied machine learning Srinivas Narayanan now says that the company’s AI model is now the world’s best image recognition system.
Oculus demonstrated what appears to be a future version of its Rift VR headset, internally called “Half-Dome.” While preserving the form factor and weight of the current Rift, the fully functional Half-Dome prototype includes several major hardware innovations designed to increase visual immersion and comfort.
Updated at 5:00 P.M. Pacific on 5/1 to clarify that Workplace at Facebook is used by more than 30,000 organizations.