It’s that time of year again. Facebook is gearing up for its biggest event of the year.
The company’s F8 developer conference is set to kick off Tuesday and there will likely be no shortage of news coming out of the two-day event.
While the only real certainty is that there will be at least a few surprises in store, there are a few topics we’re rooting for Zuckerberg and other Facebook execs tackle.
How’s that fight against fake news going?
Last year, Zuckerberg used the F8 stage to deliver a pretty righteous burn to Donald Trump. A lot has changed since then, though. Zuckerberg’s been forced to adopt a more measured tone and Facebook has found itself embroiled in a fake news controversy that just won’t go away. So we’d love nothing more than for Zuckerberg to use his keynote to address the issue head-on.
He probably won’t. F8 is an event typically reserved for developer news, vanity stats and a look at new research and technologies — you know, happy feel-good updates. And, despite recent updates meant to combat the issue, Facebook’s fake news problem is none of those things.
So definitely don’t hold your breath on this one, but we’re not ready to rule it out just yet.
WTF is the plan for social VR?
Last year, Zuckerberg wowed F8’s developers with a fresh Toy Box demo, an early preview of Zuckerberg’s vision to bring social experiences to virtual reality. We’ve gotten a few more looks at the technology since then but Facebook has yet to deliver much beyond the promise of VR selfies.
We’re now more than a year past the consumer release of Oculus Rift but the social VR future we keep being promised feels as far away as ever.
Nonetheless, Zuckerberg seems to really, truly believe social VR will sooner or later become a real thing real people will want to really do (even though it has serious problems). With a total eight developer sessions devoted to VR (compare that with just two last year), it looks like we’ll be hearing a much more meaningful update.
What’s next for Messenger?
Given the flurry of recent Messenger updates, you’d be forgiven for thinking Facebook’s unstoppable messaging app could be taking more of a backseat compared to years past. But Messenger has taken center stage at the last two F8 conferences and we don’t expect this year to be any different.
While we won’t know for sure until keynote time, Facebook will likely highlight some of Messenger’s recent updates, like the addition of a digital assistant, M, and Messenger Day, even if they don’t have a new developer tie-in to announce.
Speaking of developers, there are also three vaguely named sessions dedicated to bots and businesses on Messenger, so expect an update on that front.
What’s up with all those Snapchat clones?
Okay, we’re pretty sure Zuckerberg won’t use the (very public) F8 stage to detail his seemingly diabolical plan to crush Snapchat. But bet on Zuck and others taking the opportunity to brag about the sheer dominance of Instagram Stories, the recently-released Messenger Day update and the new Snapchat clone that lives inside the main Facebook app.
There are no less than three sessions dedicated to “Facebook Camera” — two of which are dedicated to making frames and one called “Get Creative with the Facebook Camera — so expect an expansion of the social network’s user-generated profile frames at the very least. (Zuckerberg has also been dropping some not-so-subtle hints with his “preparing for F8” selfies.)
And while the schedule doesn’t offer any hints of updates for Facebook’s other Snapchat clones, the bigger strategy behind the updates may come into sharper focus.
What the heck is going on in Building 8?
This one’s a long shot, but it would be huge. A quick refresher: Building 8 is the Facebook’s new secretive hardware lab lead by former DARPA director Regina Dugan, who lead a similar team at Google. We haven’t heard much from the team since they hired Dugan, which incidentally was almost exactly a year ago, but we haven’t given up hope that we could get a taste of it at F8.
Given the experimental nature of Building 8, there’s unlikely to be any developer-facing updates from the group in the near future, but Facebook could still use F8 to tease some of the projects Dugan and her team are cooking up. Job postings and a recent acquisition suggest they’re working on everything from “brain-computer interfaces” to mysterious hardware projects, which sound like just the type of stuff that would up the “wow” factor for Facebook’s big show.