There was a lot of information shared at the Facebook F8 Conference yesterday. And I mean a lot. It felt like Zuckerberg and his friends were just dropping bombs of information. First though, let’s talk about the Augmented Reality feature that he has brought to Facebook. According to Zuckerberg, sharing images and videos with our friends and family has become more central than texting. So they’ve enhanced what you can do with your camera.
First up, adding basic effects. Which sounds similar to other platforms we have seen, but what is interesting and unique about this is that you can add effects that are relevant to your current location. On one hand this is really cool. But on the other hand – how important are these effects to you? And does it really matter what your location is? Another feature will allow you to essentially add “stickers” to your image. But unlike any other platform, the stickers appear in 3D and can be animated if you want. Further to that, you can take a 2D image and add 3D depth to it. The example that Zuckerberg uses is taking an image with a couple of chairs and filling the room with skittles. It is actually kind of neat, but is a bit Photoshop-y in my opinion.
That being said, it is much easier to achieve than if you were to use Photoshop. Taking far less time and effort to achieve the same result. What I did find extremely cool about these new features was the ability to play a game in augmented reality. In the video, the Dad is playing a game with his two kids as they wait in the doctors office. The Dad takes a picture of the table in the waiting room, and 3D animations are added on top of the image. But what is even cooler is that the kids can interact with the animations. Smashing them as part of the game.
Another announcement made at yesterday’s conference was the ability to download Facebook Spaces in beta. If you watch the video of this announcement, you might notice that there is a delay in the audience’s reaction. Which was humourous to me only I think. So what is Facebook Spaces you ask? It’s Facebook’s answer to Virtual Reality. It appears as though they want to be part of both the AR and VR market and they’re doing it in a big way. Essentially, you upload a photo of yourself (or use a profile pic) and from there you’re able to create an avatar that looks like you. Adding glasses, or changing hair styles and colours in order to match it to your appearance.
Facebook Spaces also lets you interact with other people through Facebook Messenger Video. Allowing you to invite up to three people into your space at a time. Which is extremely cool as that is what people want, right? You want a space where you and your friends can hangout in virtual reality. Well now Facebook is giving you that ability. Only the friend you are interacting with in VR can hear what you are saying. Your other friends that are there can’t also hear the conversation. Which is an interesting feature in my opinion, but that doesn’t seem “real”. For example, if you were with three friends in reality, they would all be able to hear each other, so why limit this particular feature?
I think that Spaces looks really cool. I think the avatars are real and custom looking enough that you aren’t going to look like everyone else. I also think Facebook has made some really cool advancements to their products this year. I hope that this is the beginning of what we see coming out to some of our other favourite platforms, but as always this is an incredible start. I do recognize that this isn’t the only place to use VR, but it feels like Facbeook is bringing it to the mainstream, so anyone can use VR in some form. And that’s what we want right? The ability to access the platforms we want, when we want them, and ultimately use them in some meaningful way.