Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) emerged as the biggest talking points in a busy first day at Facebook’s (FB) F8 annual developer conference. Here is a list of some of the most interesting and significant developments that came to light at the start of this closely followed two-day event in San Jose. (See also: Facebook’s F8 Conference: What to Expect?)

Augmented Reality Cameras

Facebook effectively declared war on Snapchat (SNAP) by opting to make AR its next big project. In his speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that he wants the camera in your phone or other smart device to deliver the first mainstream AR platform, putting to rest his initial plan to use glasses. 

To achieve this, Facebook launched several AR updates for its camera, including 3D effects, object recognition and a tool that enables users to add virtual objects to everyday locations. Frames Studio, an online editor that makes frames for pictures, will be the first product within the platform.

Interestingly, Snapchat's parent company unveiled World Lenses, the company's latest augmented reality offering, the same day.

Hang Out With Friends in VR

Perhaps the most exciting product unveiled during the first day of F8 was Facebook Spaces, the social network’s first ever VR app. Launched on Oculus Rift, Spaces enables users to be placed virtually as a cartoon avatar in a space populated by up to four people. Within this 3D virtual room, which can be customized or created using a 360-degree video, users can chat, play games, share photos, video call and generally have lots of fun with people all over the world.

The main stumbling block to making this exciting concept a mainstream reality, at least at this stage, is cost — Facebook’s headsets do not exactly come cheap. During day one, a short video was played showing the latest Oculus headset, which importantly does not require a phone or PC. However, it is still not clear when it will be launched and is likely to be expensive. (See also: Facebook's Oculus Slashes Price of VR Headsets.)

Facebook Messenger Upgrade

Upgrades to Facebook’s popular messenger service were also unveiled at the event. The launch of Facebook Messenger Platform 2.0 will include more artificial intelligence to help users connect with businesses. Among the latest additions is the Discover tab, designed to help users find relevant businesses in their local area.

The M digital assistant was also revamped to incorporate suggestions during conversations, including reminders of meetings and outstanding payments that need to be made. And more advanced business bots were introduced to better answer customer queries.  

 

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