Facebook announces redesign, new Messenger, Portal features at F8

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"WhatsApp already has a strong privacy focus, the focus now is to build ways users may want to interact in the digital living room", said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's annual developers conference F8 yesterday.

The company also plans to expand its Facebook Dating platform to 14 new countries, although South Africa was not listed among these new locations. While numerous new changes to Facebook appear to focus on privacy and creating a more intimate experience for users, numerous changes in store for WhatsApp and Instagram focus on e-commerce. A new feature, called Secret Crush, will encourage dating among friends, allowing you to secretly flag which friends make you feel warm inside.

The MIT Technology Review reported that despite being aware of the number of user privacy issues that the site has faced, Facebook plans to introduce even more invasive features.

For example, there will be a redesigned Groups feature that'll supposedly make it easier to join groups with people who share your interests.

Changes announced on Tuesday put groups at the centre of the experience and add dating, friend-making and events features meant to promote people getting together in real life, Facebook's new app head, Fidji Simo, told AFP ahead of F8.

Other changes coming to Messenger 5 include a smaller footprint (30MB down from 100MB), faster launching and operating speeds, a friends tab, group video chat, and more.

A new "Groups" tab is at the center of the app and content from Groups will appear more often in News Feed. Those shortlisted will get a message someone has a crush on you' And if both shortlists each other, they will get to know they have a mutual crush.

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"It can be hard to find your sense of goal when you are connected to billions of people at the same time", Zuckerberg told the developers gathered in San Jose, California.

Theres no official release date for the new and improved Messenger as the company says it's still testing the new features. At Facebook's F8 Developer Conference that started this week, he laid out an agenda for a privacy-focused social network, besides making several product announcements typical of such events. Internal documents released by a United Kingdom parliamentary committee a year ago showed that Facebook understood the value of this data trove, and used it successfully to bolster its business and defeat the competition.

Facebook unveiled a new design to the main Facebook app on Tuesday. Similar to most of the features, this feature will also roll out later this year.

An "appointment experience" product has also been rolled out on Messenger, so customers can reserve slots with hair stylists et al via the app, while users will be able to search a new "business catalog" on WhatsApp to chat directly with a company.

Two of the newest virtual reality headsets from the company, Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S, start shipping May 21. For Instagram, Facebook confirmed the launch of in-app shopping as well as the addition of a donations sticker to raise money for charities and campaigns. Meanwhile, the redesigned website is supposed to come "in the next few months", according to Facebook.

Inside WhatsApp - by far Facebook's most secure app - the company is making statuses more secure.

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