As tech companies continue to get bigger, become more prevalent, and hold more influence over our daily lives, their developer conferences nearly reach a festival vibe of excitement for their attendees and the surrounding area. Facebook’s recent F8 developer conference in San Jose was no exception and we’ve still got chills from the fantastic time we had there.

F8 brought a diverse group of developers from around the world to learn what’s coming next for the Facebook platform, how they can build with those advances, and how the company is dealing with the massive privacy concerns surrounding it.

The big news

Even before the conference started there was a cloud hanging over it. The media was wondering how the company would move forward from the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the call to halt all new app approvals in its wake. Facebook laid these concerns to rest with a keynote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg that centered on two main points: Facebook is working diligently to make the platform a safer place for all of its users, and they will not be deterred, but will keep moving and building for the future. They want the platform to return focus to the reason it grew in the first place — to bring us all closer together.

We are now two years into the 10-year platform roadmap introduced by Zuckerberg in 2016. The keynote’s focus shifted to the progress that has been made, and how the key features of the Facebook app family would be informing the development goals of the other apps in an effort to align with Facebook’s mission of technology and togetherness. For us, seeing the augmented reality (AR) functionality inside of the Facebook camera — coming to Instagram and other Facebook owned apps — was proof that the social media giant will continue to invest in creating a powerful AR platform, which we’re excited to build upon to make memorable experiences for our clients.

Making things safer

The highlights in terms of user safety included Facebook announcing a Clear History function to allow users to delete all user data contained within the platform and strong efforts to encourage users to engage with each other rather than passively consuming content. They are hoping to get people talking again, in constructive ways, by emphasizing group functionality, changing the News Feed ranking algorithm, and introducing new AI tools to help combat hate speech and bullying, “fake news”, terrorist propaganda, and bad actors meddling in foreign elections.

What’s coming next

As for the “moving forward” features, there will be increased efforts focused on people-connecting, like group video chat across the app family, a Facebook Dating service, and new immersive content functionality ranging from augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and new types of content like 3D posts and interactive 360 degree experiences in the News Feed.

Research is still going strong in an effort to get the rest of the world online. The company is also studying new AI tools to enable functionality that was previously thought impossible, and AR/VR technology to change how we view and interact with the world around us.

Facebook even brought a physical product front and center with the release of the Oculus Go standalone virtual reality headset. Every conference attendee received one (come hang out with us in VR)!

Alex with his Oculus Go

Alex with his Oculus Go

So much to do and learn

The rest of the conference was a flurry of informative sessions regarding all of Facebook’s technologies and how developers and creators can work with them more effectively. Some of our favorites included sessions on the future of VR and the work the company has done in forging a path into the emerging realm of social VR experiences. Another session focused on how we can better use Messenger and other Facebook tools for brand promotion with an emphasis on how to make customers feel like VIPs using exclusive interactive experiences.

Beyond the keynotes and sessions there was a large festival area where attendees could try out the latest tech. Attendees could also get one-on-one time with Facebook experts to help them with integrating the technology into their own products, brands, and tools. Musical artist Logic performed at the end of night one.

All in all, our team learned much about Facebook’s direction and we are overflowing with new ideas for things we want to build, and new ways for us to promote our clients’ brands and help them engage their customers around the world. We look forward to sharing what we learn as we forge ahead!