- Facebook is holding its biggest event of the year this week.
- The F8 developer conference, held this year from April 30 to May 1, kicks off with a Tuesday morning keynote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a host of other Facebook executives.
- Business Insider attended the keynote, and wrote up every big announcement from Facebook’s F8 as it happened.
Facebook has kicked off its biggest event of the year.
F8, the company’s annual developer conference, is happening this year in San Jose, California, from April 30 to May 1. It began with a live keynote featuring CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a handful of other executives, which began Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT. We learned more about what Facebook is working on, including a new privacy focus and redesign for its many sites and apps.
The event comes as Facebook tries to move past two ugly years of scandals – from Cambridge Analytica’s misappropriation of tens of millions of users’ data to the social network’s role in spreading hate speech that fuelled genocide in Myanmar.
Business Insider attended the F8 2019 keynote. Check out all of the announcements as they happened below.
10:02 AM: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage. His first words are “today we’re going to build a privacy-focused social platform.” (Emphasis on the word “privacy.”)
10:03 AM: “Privacy gives us the freedom to be ourselves. It’s easier to feel like you belong when you’re part of smaller communities amongst your closest friends,” Zuckerberg says. “As the world gets bigger and more connected, we need that sense of intimacy more than ever.”
10:04 AM: “The future is private,” Zuckerberg declares. “I believe a private-social platform will be more important in our lives than our digital town squares.” Whatever that means.
10:05 AM: Zuckerberg laughs. “I know we don’t have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly. But we’re committed to doing this well, and to starting a new chapter for our product. It’s going to take time and it will feel like we’re unearthing old issues for a while, but I think we’ve shown time and again as a company that we can grow and build products that people want, so I’m confident we can do this.”
10:06 AM: Zuckerberg says there are six pillars to Facebook’s new platform. While screenshotting this moment, Facebook asked me about how I feel about Facebook while watching this video.
10:08 AM: “Over the next few years, we’re going to build more of our services around these ideas. This isn’t about building features, we need to change a lot of ways we’re running this company today,” Zuckerberg says.
10:09 AM: “Right now we’re going out and consulting with experts about getting this balance right and building privacy in up front,” Zuckerberg says. “And we’re working to make sure developers use our tools for good.”
10:10 AM: “I believe that over time, this is going to make a more trustworthy platform that’s better for everyone,” Zuckerberg says. “We’re developing infrastructure that knows how certain types of data are allowed to be used, so it can automatically block unauthorised access in our infrastructure, and prevent errors.” (Again, notice the poll.)
10:12 AM: “It’s not going to happen overnight, and we don’t have all the answers on how this is going to work yet. But today we’re ready to talk about what this privacy focus is going to look like across all of our apps,” Zuckerberg says.
10:13: Zuckerberg talks about Messenger. “Our next goal is to make Messenger the fastest messaging app out there — to be the most reliable, though, we need to ensure the service is available everywhere you are, and that means having a great desktop experience. So we built a new desktop app so you can chat and video chat in a native app on both Mac and Windows. This was one of our top most-requested features.”
10:15 AM: “We’re going to enable two billion people to have their conversations privately, without worrying about hackers, governments, or even us worrying about what they’re saying. I think this is going to be a historically important step,” Zuckerberg says.
10:16 AM: The new Messenger will have a Friends tab, which has a bunch of private videos and messages that are not public. Only you can see them. You’ll also be able to co-watch videos with your friends.
10:17 AM: Zuckerberg moves onto WhatsApp, which already has a strong reputation of privacy. A new feature called Status basically lets you make stories like Instagram, but it’s totally private.
10:19 AM: Facebook is also giving users a way to more privately communicate with businesses. WhatsApp is also launching product catalogues so merchants and businesses can show people what they have available…
10:19 AM: … and it’s also launching a payments platform, so you can send money directly to people and businesses through WhatsApp.
10:21 AM: There are 400 million people in Facebook groups, and Facebook believes there’s a community for everyone. “We’ve been working on a major evolution to the Facebook app to make communities as central as friends.”
10:23 AM: Zuckerberg announces this will be the fifth major redesign of Facebook, called “FB5.” The app isn’t even blue anymore, Zuckerberg laughs.
10:24 AM: The desktop version is coming later in the year. A lot of changes under the hood made this happen, to feel like groups are at the heart of the Facebook experience like friends and family are.
10:25 AM: “This is the biggest change we’ve made to the app and website over the last five years, and we’re shipping this today,” Zuckerberg says. “We’re going to start rolling this out, everyone in the US will get this today.”
10:26 AM: Zuckerberg moves onto Instagram. “One of the more interesting challenges with shopping is that we browse in public, but the interaction is private. We think there’s an opportunity with Instagram to marry these two experiences and make them both better.”
10:27 AM: Facebook announces a new shopping channel for Instagram, in the Explore tab. And the Checkout process has been made easier, and you can now buy directly from content creators as well.
10:28 AM: Instagram Stories are also getting a Create Mode, so you don’t need a photo or video to make a story — you can just draw or use text — and Facebook is also launching donation stickers so you can create fundraisers on Instagram for causes you care about.
10:29 AM: Zuckerberg says the privacy focus extends to augmented and virtual reality as well. “Two years ago at F8, we talked about how the camera was going to be the first AR platform, and in the last year alone, more than a billion people have used AR features in Facebook apps. To make this into a broader platform we’re making it easier to build for. So we’re bringing the Spark AR studio to both Windows and Mac, and we’re going to open our AR platform for Instagram so everyone can build for it.”
10:31 AM: Zuckerberg announces Portal, its camera for the home, is rolling out internationally. And Facebook is adding WhatsApp to Portal, so all video calls are end-to-end encrypted. “So if you’re having conversations with friends and family on Portal, everything stays between you,” Zuckerberg says.
10:32 AM: Zuckerberg says this will be a big year for VR, since Facebook will be launching two VR headsets this year: the Oculus Rift S…
… and the fully wireless Oculus Quest.
Preorders open today, they both cost $US399, and start shipping on May 21. Zuckerberg announces everyone in the crowd is getting a free Oculus Rift S, which results in a lot of cheering and some scattered “thank you’s.”
10:36 AM: Zuckerberg leaves the stage to Asha Sharma, Messenger’s head of product. “Over the next year, we plan to make Messenger the fastest private communication app in the entire planet. We call this project internally ‘Lightspeed.’ It will use less battery, less storage, and be more reliable than ever before.”
10:40 AM: Sharma unveils the new Messenger app for phones.
10:41 AM: You can watch private videos from friends, or watch other videos together with friends.
10:43 AM: Sharma says you’ll be able to use Messenger across all devices, including desktop computers. Messenger for Desktop is coming later this year.
10:45 AM: Facebook is bringing appointment booking to the Messenger API so you can have instant booking, real-time availability, and reminders.
10:50 AM: Now we’re getting a rehash of the earlier WhatsApp announcements, courtesy of Ami Vora. More privacy features are coming to Status (WhatsApp’s version of Stories), and WhatsApp’s business-facing side as well.
11:00 AM: We’re getting more details about Facebook’s redesign, including its emphasis on groups. You’ll be able to post jobs, ask a member of your group to respond on your behalf, and chat within smaller communities.
11:04 AM: There’s a Secret Crush feature (!) on Facebook’s dating platform that lets you create a secret list of people you’re interested in. And if they like you back, Facebook will let you both know that you’re a match for each other. (Can’t imagine this going wrong!)
11:05 AM: Aside from dating, Facebook wants to help people make new friends. The company is testing this feature in a few places, and hopes to roll it out further.
11:07 AM: Adam Mosseri from Instagram comes on stage. Instagram is getting an all-new camera, including the Create Mode that doesn’t require photos or videos to make a story.
11:10 AM: Instagram is also changing how you see likes. “We want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with other people.”
11:11 AM: Instagram also wants to address bullying more broadly. The company says it will take time to make this happen, but it’s looking at safety tools like “Away Mode,” where you can opt out of Instagram during sensitive periods of your life, like if you’re moving or are getting over a break-up. Instagram may test some of these features soon, or never at all, but Mosseri wants people to know that Instagram cares about this issue deeply.
11:13 AM: Mosseri demonstrates how donation stickers work in Instagram. He takes a picture of the audience and says he will post when he gets off-stage to donate to Black Girls Code.
11:15 AM: Instagram unveils Shopping From Creators. If you see someone wearing something you want to buy, just click on it — and if the item is made by a company that’s an Instagram partner (like Adidas), you can purchase that item and have it shipped to you without ever leaving the app.
11:17 AM: John McCarthy from Facebook’s AR/VR team comes out to talk about Portal, Facebook’s video-chat device. Portal is coming to Canada in June, and Europe this fall. It’s also getting WhatsApp.
11:21 AM: Portal is getting an update this year to give you smart-home controls, the Amazon Prime video app, and more. You’ll also be able to use Facebook Live on Portal, too. And Portal is also getting a mobile app so you can pull multimedia off the device.
11:23 AM: Chris Hemsworth from the new “Men In Black” movie advertises a new Facebook AR app that turns your friends and pets into aliens.
11:34 AM: Facebook shows off a new Star Wars VR game, called “Vader Immortal,” which will be a launch title for Oculus Quest.
11:44 AM: Facebook signs off on its keynote. “Society’s biggest opportunities aren’t going to be solved by one person, one team, or one company. We have to find ways to work together.”
That’s it for F8! For more on Facebook’s big event, check out our stories below.
- Facebook is getting its biggest face-lift ever as the social network tries to prove it has changed after a string of scandals
- Facebook’s Tinder rival now wants to get you to date your existing friends
- Facebook has 2 new, $US400 virtual reality headsets coming on May 21
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.