Apr 18, 2017

What to expect at Facebook's F8 conference

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which announces earnings Wednesday. (AP)

Later today, Facebook will kick off its annual F8 developers' conference in Silicon Valley. As usual, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with a parade of executives, will unveil a slew of new products and features—some more significant than others.

Why it matters: Since the first F8 conference 10 years ago, Facebook has used the event to push its service forward. In 2007, it announced the Facebook Platform, and last year Zuckerberg presented the company's plans for the next 10 years. Zuckerberg is also likely to take the opportunity to comment on the company's recent challenges regarding "fake news," violent Facebook Live videos, and even an update on his U.S. tour.

The rumors:

  • A tool for adding Snapchat-style "Stories" everywhere: With a touch of javascript, anyone can add this hip feature to their app, just as Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook have! (We're kidding, but this tool, called "Zuck.js," is pretty rad.)
  • Bots for group chats: A new set of these "chat bots" that live inside Facebook Messenger group conversations and provide various info and service, according to TechCrunch. For example, one could keep a group of football fans informed on the latest game scores. This could address some of the clunkiness of the chat bots Facebook unveiled at last year's conference.
  • Instagram offline: Instagram is likely working on ways for users, especially in emerging markets, to access the photo-sharing app even if they're not online, according to clues in the event schedule.
  • Camera Effects Platform: Facebook will likely introduce the ability for outsiders to design and submit filters, lenses, and other camera effects, also according to the schedule.
  • Places Graph: A revamped and more powerful set of tools for using Facebook's location data could debut at F8, once again based on the schedule. Facebook originally rolled out its Places application program interface in 2010.
  • Secret hardware: Led by former DARPA director and Google exec Regina Dugan, Facebook's secretive Building 8 unit will likely unveil some of the gadgets it's been working on, according to Business Insider.
  • More augmented reality: A big theme this year will be augmented reality. And while the pair of glasses (or contact lenses) Facebook is reportedly working on probably won't show up at the event, related technologies like camera filters will begin to lay down the groundwork, according to USA Today.
  • Virtual reality: Last year, Facebook introduced its own 360-video camera rig, and demo'd its take on social interaction in virtual reality—so expect more VR this year. Facebook may also showcase its newest headset, according to Variety.

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