The Facebook app is getting a new design while Messenger will get a desktop app
Facebook apps may not be the most popular in terms of likability, but they are used by millions of people every day. The company’s Android apps have been criticized for being poorly optimized and bloated in the past. Thankfully, Facebook Messenger recently received a big update and the company isn’t done yet.
During Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, the company has announced a number of updates for the Facebook app, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, and AR/VR experiences.
The Facebook app will be getting a new design referred to as “FB5.”They claim it will be “simpler, faster, more immersive, and puts your communities at the center.” The new design is supposed to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. Groups will see a bigger focus in this new design. There will be a redesigned Groups tab that shows activity across all of your groups in a feed. They will also open up new features to more types of groups.
Facebook is making a bigger push into becoming a dating platform. The company is opening up Facebook Dating to more countries and they are adding Secret Crush, a feature very similar to Tinder. You can select up to 9 people from your extended circle of friends. If your “crush” selects you, you both get notified of a match. No one gets notified of anything if there isn’t a match.
Lastly, a new feature will make it easier to meet people from your community. Marketplace items will be able to be shipped anywhere in the continental US and people can pay directly on Facebook. These features will be rolling out over the next few months.
Now that Messenger has been redesigned, Facebook says the next step rebuilding the architecture from the ground up. A faster, lighter e-engineered app will roll out this year.
Facebook is also testing a feature for watching videos together in Messenger. It will only work with videos from the Facebook app and you can invite others while chatting or video calling.
Messenger currently has a web version at messenger.com, but Facebook will also be rolling out a Windows/Mac app. The desktop app will be able to do everything you can do in the mobile app and it will be available later this year.
The one announcement for WhatsApp is about connecting people with businesses. WhatsApp will be getting a business catalog within the app when chatting with a business. This allows users to see products within a conversation.
Instagram will soon get the ability to shop directly in the app. You can tap products from Instagram posts and make the purchase without leaving the app. Instagram is testing this with a small group of creators. Fundraisers are also coming to Instagram with donation stickers for Stories. Lastly, the camera is being improved and a new Create Mode will make it easier to create posts without photos or videos.
Facebook is big into AR and VR, so naturally, they had a few announcements about that as well. The Portal smart displays are coming to Europe this Fall and they will be getting WhatsApp support. Portal will also get more features such as event information, smart home control, Facebook Live, and Amazon Prime Video. Portal will be able to show Instagram photos on the screen saver.
Lastly, Oculus’ new headsets, the Quest and Rift S, are now available for pre-order. They will begin shipping on May 21st. The Quest is a headset that doesn’t require a tethered PC.