F8, Facebook’s annual developers conference, was earlier this week, so we decided to host this week’s Gadget Lab podcast entirely in VR, which means you’ll need an Oculus Go headset to listen to it as well. Just kidding, but really, that might be the future if Facebook’s vision for social VR comes to fruition. We also heard a lot about Facebook’s plans for a more social Instagram–think live video-chatting with your friends while you browse their vacation photos–and more AR filters. And if you ever happened to think that Facebook creeping on potential dates should just become an Official Thing, Facebook has you covered there: it used the F8 stage to announced a new service called “Dating,” one that lets Facebook users make a separate profile and use a dedicated inbox specifically for that activity. Really, what better way to get to the heart of privacy concerns than by going straight to users’ hearts.
But in all seriousness, Facebook’s prowess in technology was on full display this past week, Congressional testimonies be damned. Behind the $200 headset and the dating app and the bunny rabbit AR filters exists a company that is working frantically to not just keep up but actually lead on things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced optical displays. At the end of the day, Facebook still makes money off of advertising. But for a couple days a year, it gets to pretend its whole reason for existence is to connect the world while playing in a fun R&D sandbox.
Some notes: You can find all of our F8 coverage right here, including Steven Levy’s interview with Mark Zuckerberg ahead of the big event; Tom Simonite’s story on how Facebook is using #puppy hashtags on Instagram to feed its computer vision AI; Peter Rubin’s review of Oculus Go; Lauren’s story about Facebook’s need to crack down on VR apps before VR suffers the same issues as the main Facebook platform; and Arielle’s recap of the biggest news from the F8 Day One keynote.
Recommendations this week: Michael says run, don’t walk to check out the new Lenovo Mirage Solo virtual reality headset, which at $400 is double the cost of the Oculus Go but also offers a better overall viewing experience (his full review is here); Arielle recommends WIRED staffer Peter Rubin’s new book, Future Presence: How Virtual Reality is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life; and Lauren recommends this episode of the Tim Ferriss show, which features WIRED editor-in-chief Nick Thompson (clearly we are very proud of our colleagues).
Send the hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric, Lauren Goode is @laurengoode, and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
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