With the rising popularity of other social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine, Facebook‘s overall growth has slowed in the past year. It was kind of the old-cool-dad but its recent ‘makeover’ showcases how the site is still riding high as the king of the social media space. Meaning- Daddy’s back.
Facebook is still by far the most popular social media site. In fact, if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’re actually in the minority at this point. Some 71 percent of Internet users are now on Facebook, including – for the first time ever – more than half (56 percent) of those ages 65 and older, the research firm said Friday.
1. Now you can leave a video as a Facebook comment
Facebook announced a few days ago that it will now allow users to leave a video in the comments section, as the company continues to emphasise video content as we consume more of it.
You can leave a video by clicking the camera button in the comments box and uploading one. It’s available currently on the desktop web, but the next update will expand the feature to its iOS and Android apps.
2. It is about to become the best place to stream video games
Once upon a time, Facebook was the center of the casual gaming universe with its FarmVille-fueled desktop platform. People spent countless hours mindlessly maintaining their digital farms and throwing sheeps at each other.
And now, Facebook announced a partnership with Blizzard Entertainment: All of Blizzard’s games, from “World of Warcraft” to “Diablo 3” to “Hearthstone” to “Overwatch” will be instantly streamable – live! – on Facebook Live.
You push a “Go Live!” button, there’s a short countdown (3….2….1), and you’re off to the races, live streaming your game directly to Facebook in high-resolution. It’s easy to imagine just such a future on everything from your iPhone to that PlayStation 4 in the living room.
100 million people use the Amazon-owned Twitch service each month, while 650 million play Facebook-connected games, showing huge potential for this new feature (Sorry Twitch). Video games have become a spectator sport, and Facebook is angling to become ESPN.
Facebook’s director of games partnerships said, “Gamers are everywhere. They’re on every different device, they’re playing anytime, and we want to be where gamers are.”
3. Facebook added invite tool to Safety Check
When Facebook’s Safety Check feature was pushed out late last year following the terrorist attacks in Paris, it received criticism for also not activating the tool for bombings in Beirut and other areas of crisis.
But now the feature is undergoing a big change that could better serve people in areas getting less media attention, one that relies more on people on the ground in those regions to help spread the word.
Before now, Facebook relied heavily on a team of on-call engineers to parse through real-time data about national disasters and incidents such as terrorist attacks coming in from third-party partners. Ultimately, these staffers would serve up manual Safety Check prompts encouraging people to use the feature.
Starting this week, Facebook is testing a Safety Check invite tool that allows people in affected areas to ask friends and family members to check in and mark themselves as “safe.”
4. Little updates that matter much- Facebook’s New Font
Helvetica has been Facebook’s font of choice for a long time, but some keen-eyed users noticed a slight change while browsing their news feeds Friday. Facebook is testing out a new, thinner font for some desktop users, and it’s called Geneva.
Take a look at some key letters like the lowercase “a” and uppercase “G,” each of which has clear differences between the old font and the new. You can also see that the new links appear to be a darker blue than the old links, while the body text is a little lighter.
5. Facebook is employing smart and powerful people
Adobe executive Umang Bedi as its new India head:
Facebook has appointed former Adobe head Umang Bedi as its new managing director in India, its second-largest market in the world. Bedi, who was the managing director of south Asia at Adobe, takes over from Kirthiga Reddy, who will join the global accounts team at the company’s headquarters at Menlo Park, California.
As the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, India is important for Facebook. The company, which currently has 150 million users in India, recently opened its fourth office in the country, in the financial and entertainment hub of Mumbai.
After taking charge in July, Bedi will be responsible for building and maintaining strategic relationships with top clients and agencies in India. Prior to Facebook, the Harvard Business School alumni worked on expanding Adobe’s business in India.
And CollegeHumor co-founder to work with the media:
Facebook is getting serious about media by bringing in one of the co-founders of CollegeHumor. Ricky Van Veen will join Facebook as “head of global creative strategy,” a position that will look to persuade media organisations and other notable users to make more things to put on Facebook.
“This essentially means that I’ll be working with all types of creators and organisations to figure out how best to use the biggest network in the world to better connect people with engaging and meaningful content,” Van Veen wrote in a Facebook post about the move.
6. Became a much better place to share 360 photos
Facebook is now rolling out support for 360 photos in the News Feed, allowing users to view as well as upload pictures taken with 360-degree cameras on both desktop and mobile.
Just like with 360 videos hosted on Facebook, desktop users can click and drag 360 photos to see different parts of the photo while mobile users can swipe the photos or tilt their phones.
Most people don’t have a 360-degree camera yet, so most 360 photos will likely come from panoramic shots taken with iOS and Samsung Galaxy phones. There are also 360-degree photo apps like Google’s Photo Sphere, which allow you to easily take 360 photos with your phones.
You upload a 360 photo to Facebook just like you would with any other photo. Just tap “Photo/Video” above the “What’s on your mind?” box and select the 360 photo. They’ll appear on the News Feed just like a normal photo but with a small compass icon in the corner, signifying that you can explore the photo further.
7. New diverse Emoji for Messenger
Facebook updated Messenger by adding more than 100 new emoji characters “to better reflect gender and skin tones,” Facebook also updated its existing emoji so that all its emoji will appear exactly the same across Messenger, regardless of device or platform.
The update is meant to bring more diversity to Messenger’s emoji set. There are now more female emoji characters, including a female police officer, runner and swimmer; as well as gender-agnostic options and multi-colored emojis.
Red-headed emoji characters will also be included in Messenger for the first time and Facebook says it will continue to make more diverse emoji available over time.
8. You can now stream Facebook Live videos from DJI drones!
In only a handful of years, DJI has risen to become the top consumer drone maker. The company’s latest DJI Phantom 4, which earned a Mashable Choice award, was praised for its refined design, intelligent computer vision-based obstacle avoidance system and easy-to-use flying controls (both with a remote control and a smartphone/tablet).
As drones become more popular with consumers, more companies are entering the space. GoPro’s expected to unveil its Karma drone later this year and Chinese tech giant Xiaomi will announce its own drone.
Facebook Live initially went public last summer, but only for “Public Figures” (like Beyoncé and Mark Zuckerberg). Private citizens – normal people like you, me, and Chewbacca Mom – only got access in January 2016. Even then, it was still limited to “Point your phone at something and make a video. Live!”
A month after its announcement at Facebook’s F8 developer conference last month, DJI has now updated its DJI Go app to allow several of its drones to stream live video directly from their cameras to Facebook.
The newly updated DJI Go app is available for iOS and Android. The drones that will support Facebook Live include the company’s high-end Inspire drones and Phantom 3 and new Phantom 4.
The addition of Facebook Live support furthers DJI’s drone live streaming platforms. DJI drones can also live stream to Periscope and YouTube.
9. The Rise of the Chatbots
It’s amazing when someone books a cab or orders a bouquet of flowers simply through a conversation. This phenomenon has never seen before where computing intelligence uses natural human language to deliver simplified consumer experiences.
Chatbots have the advantage of enabling users to access business services while on chat platforms like Facebook Messenger and Telegram. What this could mean is that the search and discovery function may shift away from Google and apps to chat platforms because of their pure simplicity and convenience. This development truly has the potential to become the ‘next big thing’ when businesses invest sufficiently in this technology and when more chat platforms like Whatsapp join the party.
In India, we have already seen a few bots like Niki and MagicX trying to make their presence felt in the travel and grocery categories in India. There are certainly more developments expected out of them and a few other players like Times Internet funded Haptik, which are trying to solve more ‘use cases’ for assisting users on chat platforms through human-supported bots.
One can foresee two sets of chatbots emerging in the next few months: (1) stand-alone bots that solve for conversations and (2) bots that are platform extensions of businesses like Flipkart and Amazon.
With all that being said, watch out for the upcoming even-more-amazing facebook updates because the old big thing is again the next big thing.