The F8 Developer Conference has been around for some time, and this year, Facebook has aimed to do an overall backend improvement to Facebook and its family of apps. Facebook is by far the most popular social media tool used for personal as well as public purposes. However, with its acquisition of WhatsApp and Oculus, it has grown even bigger, and it is working in so many different directions to guide the future.
The Day 1 keynote was concentrated on Facebook’s family of apps, with special developments in Messenger. Facebook Messenger has over 600 million active users. Yesterday, the messenger got major updates, opening up the Messenger Platform. Facebook is releasing SDKs and APIs to develop Messenger specific apps (many already available). Apps can now directly send GIF’s, videos and graphic content straight to Messenger’s chat window (Update Messenger on your phone, and you can already use these features). Moreover, Facebook showed Messenger’s integration with business: soon you’ll get live delivery updates and purchase confirmations straight to Messenger, and you can also reply to them, asking, for example, a return of item, or buying a similar piece.
If Messenger was not what you cared about, there was more on Day 1. Facebook is now adding support to 360 degree videos (literally), there is a new app usage tracking analytics feature, Parse has new SDK’s for the Internet of Things, and of course, there are embeddable fb videos.
However, Day 2 was different.
It was about Virtual Reality being the future. It was more about the “Reality” and that our senses are fooled so easily that what we see is not always what’s real.
Mike Abrash, Oculus’s Chief Scientist used the quote, "What is real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” from The Matrix (movie). He used a bunch of optical illusions to prove how easily the brain can be fooled.
Our brains and our senses create reality. Reality isn’t real, its generated. And if you haven’t understood yet, Mike implies that the brain is a malleable piece of architecture, and can be bent to see things that aren’t actually present, as long as it is able to comprehend it.
The job of VR is exactly that: to bend reality. To use your faulty senses to let your brain create a different environment simply by putting in the right combination of high resolution graphic content (5K at 90fps for each eye) and 3D audio. And Mike says Oculus has achieved a very-close-to-reality experience on its Crescent Bay prototype.
Day 2 also saw news about Facebook’s drone prototypes that will provide cheap mobile internet access in rural environments and IT projects and data centres for the ton of content being uploaded.
The F8 was a good roundup of what we can see from Facebook in the future, from the more awesome Messenger to the virtual reality thrill. Mike concluded about VR, saying,"Sooner or later, you will want to be a part of it. I'm hoping it's sooner.”