Facebook, very busy, working on a dating service and AR for Messenger

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Brands including Sephora, Nike, Asus and Kia have tried AR shopping on Messenger.
Brands including Sephora, Nike, Asus and Kia have tried AR shopping on Messenger. Credit: Facebook

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was more evangelical firebrand than repentant sinner at the F8 developer conference.

The CEO, fresh off a public chastising in Congress for privacy lapses on the social network, appeared somewhat defiant during his keynote at the annual developer conference.

Zuckerberg promised to keep people safe, but also to keep building.

"If you believe as I do that giving people a voice is important, that building relationships is important, that creating a sense of community is important, that doing the hard work of trying to bring the world closer together is important," Zuckerberg said, "then I say this: We will keep building."

So, what exactly is Facebook building and how will it bring people—and brands—together? Here are the highlights:

Face-dating

Facebook says it's working on a dating service to compete with Tinder, Bumble, Match and all the rest. Zuckerberg claimed it will match people based on shared interests, and would encourage deep connection, "not just hookups." How exactly it would do that is still unclear. Zuckerberg also said friends would not be among the selection of potential dates. No more info was immediately forthcoming.

AR shopping

Facebook Messenger is launching a new augmented reality feature for brands where, for the first time, they can show off products through the Camera Effects Platform. Facebook currently lets brands and advertisers build other AR experiences through the effects platform, which competes with Snapchat's Lens Studio, Apple's ARKit and Google ARCore.

Facebook said Asus, Kia, Nike and Sephora have tested AR on Messenger. In theory it would let people get a better sense of their products in the digital world before buying, such as through a 360-rendering of a sneaker.

"When a person interacts with your business in Messenger, you can prompt them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand," Facebook said in a blog post announcing the new feature. "From there, people can share the image or video to their story or in a group or one-to conversation or they can simply save it to their camera roll."

Snapchat has already entered the world of AR commerce, with similar camera filters that brands can use to promote products.

Instagram effects

The photo- and video-sharing app is getting animated filters, too. Facebook announced it would launch the Camera Effect Platform on Instagram as well, which means the service will have even more similarities with Snapchat, its top competitor.

Brands and advertisers build the augmented reality filters that people can then put on their Instagram videos. Snapchat was the first to popularize such digital behavior, encouraging people to trade video messages that were decorated with these cartoonish filters that transform their faces into puppies, tacos or barfing rainbows.

Facebook launched an AR studio at last year's F8, giving the technology broadly to brands and developers.

Also, on Tuesday, Instagram got a video chat feature, which means people can make video calls one-to-one and group video calls through the direct messaging side of the platform.

Ad Age earlier today reported on what Facebook called an accidental release of an in-house experiment, after some users saw notes at the bottom of posts asking whether they contain hate speech. Check it out here.

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