Facebook Is Going All-In on Augmented Reality

Facebook kicked off its annual conference for developers Tuesday in San Jose, Calif. with a speech by Zuckerberg, who outlined some augmented reality tools and features he envisions on Facebook.

Starting with “basic effects”, Zuckerberg showed images of Snapchat-style photo overlays like facemasks, but said that as an open platform users will be able to create their own and “instead of having ten to 20 options to choose from, you’re going to have thousands”.

Intended for developer use, Camera Effects offers new ways for users to share and express themselves, powered by an augmented reality (AR) engine.

Facebook calls its new Spaces app a new VR app “where you hang out with friends in a fun, interactive virtual environment as if you were in the same room”. The new AR Studio is bound to bring forth some exciting new applications and it will be very interesting to see what creative devs can come up with. Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today, and you can download it now from the Oculus Store.

Zuckerberg said: “Think about how numerous things that we have in our lives that actually don’t need to be physical – they can be digital”.

There will also be some changes to Messenger that you may find useful. As The New York Times notes, Zuckerberg has always been disappointed that Facebook never built a credible smartphone operating system of its own. Augmented reality will also allow users to leave notes for friends in specific locations-say, at a table in a particular restaurant-or let them view pop-up labels tagged to real world objects.

The “Camera Effects Platform” will let developers build AR features and lenses for the Facebook in-app camera.

Building on the launch of chatbots on Messenger at F8 past year, Facebook announced the new Discover tab, to find recently used bots, popular “experiences” and search for businesses.

Over the last couple of years, Facebook has been closely working with Oculus, its augmented reality unit.

For a company that began as a way for college students to see pictures of each other, Facebook’s move toward augmented reality represents another step in its long evolution.

Microsoft has an early lead in the Mixed Reality sphere, but their competition are the most well-funded companies in the world and they never sleep.

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