Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage in San Francisco on Wednesday during F8, the Facebook developer conference. There, Zuckerberg and his underlings gave viewers and attendees alike a vision of the future of Facebook—and while nothing is going to set the world on fire, there were enough interesting ideas presented that make Facebook seem poised to make some big moves down the road.
Spherical Videos Coming to Facebook and Oculus
Soon enough, Facebook Newsfeeds will support the sharing of “spherical video,” which, as the name suggests, is that much more exciting than mere 360 degree videos. Since they’ll need to be captured with special cameras, spherical videos are going to be of relatively limited appeal until said cameras become more ubiquitous. But by announcing it now, Facebook is showing just a glimpse of its plans for the future—specifically its future with Oculus VR.
That’s one of the main thrusts of the spherical video news. While users can certainly interact with such a video with a mouse, clicking on where they want their perspective to go, the real game changer is going to be in bringing those experiences to VR. When Oculus finally releases a consumer version of the Rift headset, be on the lookout for more spherical cameras to pipe new content into headsets.
Parse Moving Into Internet of Things
Facebook’s development platform, Parse, will soon offer up SDKs for developers to start making Internet of Things programs. Parse, an app development platform purchased by Facebook in 2013, already gives developers tools for developing mobile apps. The addition of IoT to Parse’s bag of tricks expands Facebook’s ambitions as far as what parts of your life it’ll be involved in. It’s not entirely clear how IoT will work with the Social Network, but if nothing else, knowing more about how users interact with connected devices gives Facebook more data to enjoy.
One of the biggest announcements of the day was that Messenger—formerly a way for users to just bounce text messages to each other without using SMS—is becoming its own dedicated platform. Messenger Platform will enjoy deeper app integration, meaning that users will be able to select and install compatible apps that’ll let users share more than simply stickers or videos. Soon they’ll be able to send each other gifs, custom animations, and potentially a whole lot more. The possibilities are only limited by app developers’ imaginations.
Additionally, Messenger Platform is diving into e-commerce. Participating Messenger Business retailers will give users the option to take their transactions to Messenger, creating a single thread and point of contact for keeping up with their orders. From there, customers will be able to provide feedback, order more products, track shipments, or deal with returns and customer service. It’s an ambitious plan, and could revolutionize how people buy stuff on the Internet. Or, it could wind up being not much of anything if retailers don’t feel like signing up. We’ll have to wait and see how that one turns out over the next few months as it’s rolled out of Facebook HQ.