Facebook's next focus is creating an augmented community

Facebook's next focus is creating an augmented community (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

SAN JOSE, Calif. - At Facebook's annual developer conference (called F8), the social media giant announced the company’s giant leap into the world of augmented reality (or AR). With just a smartphone, AR can give users the power to manipulate the physical world they’re in – and Facebook wants to be the primary engine to do that.

Last month, Facebook added more features to the camera inside its app that lets users add filters (akin to Snapchat) as part of its rollout of Stories. Now, with the leap into AR, those experiences are enhanced with three-dimensional elements (that developers can now help bring to life). One demo showed a shark feeding scenario surrounding a bowl of Cheerios, which can bring color to a rather ordinary day.

Earlier in the day, Snapchat (which has been in hot competition with Facebook lately) announced its own AR experience called New World Lenses, which the company says can help users “paint the world around (them) with new 3D experiences.” Snapchat’s AR product is available today, while Facebook’s is in closed beta.

Outside of AR, Facebook also announced another product in early beta called Facebook Spaces, which is all about taking real social experiences and bringing those into virtual reality (or VR). Here, one person can join a chat with a friend on the other side of the world and even share an experience together, such as a virtual trip to London.

We also learned about updates to Facebook Messenger, which gives publishers and companies new ways to transact with users, such as booking a hotel, ordering food online, setting up an appointment at Sephora and more. Facebook also announced an integration with Spotify (and soon Apple Music) which offers a new way to share music you care about amongst your friends.

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