Facebook makes AR push, launches VR app

Thursday, 20 Apr, 2017

Augmented reality involves the project of computer-generated images into real-world surroundings. "They can be digital ... and think about how much better and more affordable and accessible they're going to be when they are". It won't require fancy glasses or new tech - it starts with the camera in your phone.

Facebook hold an annual developer's event, used to bring together the large number of people that work for the social network. Here's a quick look at the top announcements from F8. He announced a new "camera effects platform" that will enable the developers to create filters, masks and effects around the Facebook camera, thus taking competition with Snapchat to a new level.

Here's the thing: AR Studio will be a free service, which directly undermines Snapchat's nascent ad platform. For example, a new Discover tab on the Facebook Messenger platform will make it easier for users to find particular bots out of the many that are available, or scan Messenger Codes with their cameras to access information and offerings from particular businesses. The highlighted features of the AR platform on Facebook include object recognition, 3D effects and exact location. These are powered by the AR Studio tool, and will respond to what happens in the livestream in real time. "I would bet the AR one will be bigger if it can be developed in a good way". With an AR platform, users will be able to leave a virtual note for a friend at a restaurant or create artwork that appears on a building wall when looking at it with your phone.

The possibilities for AR are only limited by a developer's imagination and there are plenty of ways in which the real world can be manipulated using this technology. When the friend picks up the call, it opens a windows into this VR world. Also, there is a new Discovery tab on Messenger, where people can see their recently used bots, browse bot categories, see trending experiences or search for specific bots.

The new Chat Extensions for Messenger which will also help businesses improve their operations. It will make it possible for more than one person to interact with a third party app or business at the same time. People can now add a bot inside their group thread.

Messenger's new AI assistant, M, for example will sort out your dinner plans via delivery.com. Messenger is also getting smart replies as well. For more than a year, the company has slowly been introducing games that you can play natively within the chat app and the company claims that more than 1.5 billion games were played in the past 90 days.

David Marcus, Head of Facebook Messenger, also mentioned that the platform now has over 100,000 bots, up from 33,000 in September past year.

Each "Developer Circle" is led by members of the local community who act as leads for the circle, organising events offline and managing a local online Facebook community. The new "Automated Insights tool" will now rely on advanced machine learning and AI for new insights for users.