Facebook’s F8 developer conference took place earlier this week. Interestingly, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this year overall theme is that “the future is private.” And while there is always room for stronger encryption, more secure data storage, and private interaction, Facebook also continues to move forward with more ways for users to engage with the platform, pleasing advertisers at the risk of potentially exposing some of the treasured user data.
But since there are already dozens of articles about the conference, here’s just a quick snapshot of some of the key features that were introduced this year.
Instagram Will Have a New Create Mode
The camera in Instagram Stories is getting updated, making it easier to find and use some of the additional effects and features that proved to be a bit more difficult to understand for lots of users.
The new Create Mode will let users create an image for Stories that isn’t necessarily a photo or video. Now for instance, users can easily add a story that only includes a solid color background with text or GIFs over it. No more makeshift workarounds to create your own backgrounds needed.
Instagram is Testing Hiding Like Counts from Followers
I already reported about this last week, so not much more to add now other than the original rumor about the test is now official and Facebook showed its own test. In the test, followers won’t see a photo’s total likes or a video’s view counts in their Instagram feeds or when visiting a user’s profile. Only the account owner will continue to be able to access their own metrics and see the total likes or views for a specific post, although now, it will require tapping through a post to view those metrics. Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.
Facebook Is Making It Easier for You To Date Your Friends Too
This is an interesting new feature, especially when the them of this year’s conference was “The Future is Private.” However, thanks to the new “Secret Crush” Facebook Dating users can pick up to nine of their friends that they have a crush on. If any of those friends also picked the same user, he or she will get notified. If your secret crush is not reciprocating, he or she will never know about your crush on them. At strange form of match-making that will surely make some people think twice about privacy issues.
Businesses Can Use WhatsApp to Display Entire Product Catalogs Directly on Their Profiles.
WhatsApp is not so commonly used in the US at the business level but it is widely use by the rest of the world. Now, businesses using this app can also add entire product catalogs directly to their profile information in addition to their existing business descriptions and contact information, “Now you can see what is available with a business,” said Zuckerberg. The feature could help millions of small businesses that don’t have websites in some developing countries but still represent a large portion of WhatsApp users. In other words, any small business can now use WhatsApp as a mini portal to display their products or services.
Select Influencers Can Add Shopping Tags to Posts
Facebook has been pushing Instagram into its own shopping platform for some time now. Last month, Instagram introduced the option to buy products from certain brands and check out directly through shopping tags on the app. Moving forward, Instagram is expanding that capability to a select group of 60 (high profile) influencers. For now, only products from participating brands can be purchased from the app. The feature is available to people in the US.
The redesign, the most significant since Facebook’s launch, launches today in the US, and for the rest of the world in the coming weeks. A spokesperson said: “The redesign on mobile has been happening in stages. It has already begun on both iOS and Android and will continue over the coming months. The desktop redesign, which will begin testing in the next few months, will update the web design to look and feel more modern and fresh, similar to the mobile app.”
Facebook Messenger is Getting a Desktop App for Windows and Mac
This was somehow an expected upgrade to the existing Facebook Messenger app. In trying to beat Apple’s Facetime and iMessage features, Facebook Messenger will now also allow laptop users to place group calls and other features that were not previously available. According to Facebook, private messaging is one of the fastest growing areas of online communication and the amount of time spent in video chat on Messenger has grown 40% year over year. With the desktop option being added now, that number will surely continue to grow.
That’s it for now. There are several other updates and upgrades such as a new design for Facebook’s interface (no more blue) but the above list includes the ones that I believe will cause the most impact.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR).
All pictures by Facebook