Every major tech company in Silicon Valley has an annual developer conference where it reveals what we, the users, can look forward to in the future. Today, it was Facebook's turn. Mark Zuckerberg kicked off F8 2016, a conference for over 2,600 developers, where he unveiled not just new features we can expect in the next 365 days, but Facebook's 10-year roadmap.
His big vision for the next decade: Technology that will truly connect the world. While the actual Facebook — the website and app where you probably still spend countless hours each day — remains at the centre of the company's universe, the future focus will be on reaching beyond the limits of your profile page and newsfeed. Zuckerberg has his sights set on a new division, one that will even go beyond Facebook-owned apps such as Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
As part of that effort, Facebook is looking into investing further in technologies such as virtual and augmented reality (he offered a glimpse of Google Glass-like specs), artificial intelligence, drones, satellites, and lasers.
If that sounds unusual, keep in mind Facebook bought VR headset-maker Oculus Rift back in 2014. And while virtual and augmented reality headsets are still in their early stages, they are starting to show up everywhere (including Microsoft's developer conference earlier this month). Zuckerberg, in particular, thinks virtual reality can make it feel like you're actually with family or friends — experiencing a baby's first steps, for example — when you're miles and miles away.
Facebook's intention to connect the world resembles its earliest goals when it was created on February 4, 2004, in Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm (a moment you might remember from The Social Network). But is the company stretching itself too thin? Some recent developments, such as Facebook Live, have yet to really take off, and you have to wonder if there will come a time when Facebook's empire falls to an usurper like Snapchat.
Of course, the company also made some more timely and relevant announcements. Its save button, which lets you save articles, videos, and more on Facebook, is now available for developers to include in their own apps and websites; there's a tool to share quotes more easily, access to apps such as Boomerang that let you create profile videos, and bots for Messenger that will give you everything from shipping notifications to weather updates.
If one thing's clear after day one of the conference, it's that Facebook plans to become an even bigger part of your world, whether you want it to or not.