SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - “The Future is Private”, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared in his keynote at F8, the social network’s annual conference in San Jose Tuesday. For analysts and critics, Facebook’s pivot to privacy has been a closely watched development ever since he alluded to it in a post in March this year.
Despite being rocked by a series of privacy scandals over the past 15 months, Facebook’s growth continues unabated, both in terms of monthly active users (2.38 billion) and revenue ($15.08B) as per its Q1 2019 results. Facebook’s stock was unfazed by its announcement that it would be setting aside $3 to $5 billion for a fine by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
Zuckerberg outlined six privacy principles that will guide Facebook’s product focus - Private interactions, encryption, reduced permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage. Here’s a recap of all the major product announcements to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Occulus, Portal, and more.
1) Facebook gets a facelift
Facebook has often been referred to as the blue app – alluding to its logo. That’s set to change with a new redesign, codenamed FB5. Expected to roll out in the coming months, the redesign puts groups first, making reccomendations on groups you should join. There will be different features for different groups – on health support groups, users can post anonymously, for example.
2) A faster, lighter Messenger app
The Facebook Messenger app is set to get leaner and faster -it currently takes 127.1 MB of space, which will be pared down to 30 MB in the new version, which is expected to roll out by the end of the year. The new version will have a dedicated tab to get updates from close friends and family. The app also incorporates the ability to watch videos with friends. End to end encryption is coming to the app at some point in the future.
3) A desktop app for Messenger
Dedicated Messenger apps for Mac and Windows will roll out later this year. The app will incorporate features that are found on the mobile app. As of now, only WhatsApp has an app for the desktop, though it is quite limited in functionality.
4) Facebook Dating launches in 14 countries
Facebook had launched its dating feature in Colombia in September 2018, and later expanded it to Canada, Thailand, Argentina, and Mexico. Today, the feature will roll out to Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, and Suriname. The feature will roll out in the US by the end of the year. A new feature called Secret Crush lets you add up to nine Facebook friends as potential romantic interests – and if the sentiment is reciprocated, users are matched.
5) Make friends with Meet New Friends
Facebook’s Meet New Friends feature is currently being tested in a few markets – the opt-in feature will recommend people you should befriend from shared communities like school, workplace, city, and Facebook groups.
6)WhatsApp gets a Business Catalog
A push towards facilitating e-commerce and payments is very much on Facebook’s radar, as its tries to broaden its revenue streams and look for avenues outside of advertising. Businesses using WhatsApp will soon get the ability to list catalogs of products that can be purchased from within the app.
7) More shopping features
Instagram is rolling out a feature in a week which will let users tap on creators and buy whatever they are wearing. The feature will work with a limited number of creators at first. Instagram will also add the ability to raise money for a non-profit through donation stickers. Facebook Marketplace will soon allow users to buy and sell items anywhere in the US, and pay directly on Facebook.
8) Portal launches in more countries, adds new features
Facebook’s video calling device Portal and Portal+ will soon be available for purchase in Canada, and in Europe this fall. Support for WhatsApp will be added soon, along with end-to-end encryption on all calls made through the device.
9) Oculus Quest and Rift S are open for pre-orders
Facebook has opened pre-orders for its two VR headsets - Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S, which will be shipped on May 21. Both the devices are priced at $399 - main difference between the two devices is that Oculus Quest doesn’t require a PC.
10) Hide like counts on Instagram
Digital wellness is a growing concern for tech platforms, and the roll out of Dark mode on all apps is an example of this. Instagram is testing a bunch of anti-bullying features to control how people interact on the platform. Instagram is also currently testing a feature in Canada that lets users hide like counts to their posts, making the platform feel less like a popularity contest.