Speaking at Facebook’s annual developer conference in California this week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a slew of new updates across their platforms.
Zuckerberg said the company would make major changes to WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, with the overhauled versions of the applications focusing on user privacy.
The new version of Facebook is code-named “FB5”, and it will be the biggest change the platform has experienced in years. Facebook is also extending these changes to other platforms it owns.
The official release dates for the new features have not yet been revealed, but the company said it is currently working on the redesign.
Facebook did not provide many details regarding the changes coming to WhatsApp, but it did announce the addition of a business catalogue within the messaging app.
This feature will help WhatsApp users connect with businesses and browse products from within the app, the company said..
“People and businesses are finding WhatsApp a great way to connect. In the months ahead people will be able to see a business catalogue right within WhatsApp when chatting with a business,” Facebook announced.
“With catalogues, businesses can showcase their goods so people can easily discover them.”
Facebook’s big redesign will change the focus of the platform to its Groups, with many new features being released to put Groups at the centre of the social media space.
The “FB5” version of is designed to be simpler, faster, and more community-focused.
Facebook said its platform will also make it easier for users to travel from public spaces to more private ones, thanks to a new Group discovery tool, better integration with Facebook Watch, the Gaming tab, and Group focuses.
The company also plans to expand its Facebook Dating platform to 14 new countries, although South Africa was not listed among these new locations.
A new “Secret Crush” feature will allow users to select up to nine of their friends they express interest in. If their crush has opted into Facebook Dating, they will get a notification stating that someone has a crush on them, and will be matched with them if they add the other user as a Secret Crush in return.
Facebook has also built a Meet New Friends feature to facilitate the offline interaction of users, as well as new Marketplace shipping functionality to help facilitate delivery of items.
The new version of Facebook will also feature a redesigned Events tab which makes it easier to coordinate with friends to make plans.
“People will start seeing some of these updates in the Facebook app right away, and the new desktop site will come in the next few months,” Facebook said.
The changes coming to Instagram focus on connecting people with their interests and implementing new camera functionality.
Instagram will also allow users to shop from the creators they follow without leaving the application.
“Instead of taking a screenshot or asking for product details in comments or Direct, you can simply tap to see exactly what your favourite creators are wearing and buy it on the spot,” Facebook said.
This feature will roll out to a small group of creators next week and expand over time.
Facebook also announced it would introduce a new camera design in the coming weeks, which includes a Create Mode that allows you to share content without a photo or video.
“This new camera will make it easier to use popular creative tools like effects and interactive stickers, so you can express yourself more freely,” Facebook added.
Another feature coming to Instagram will facilitate fundraising for nonprofit organisations through donation stickers in Stories.
Messenger will see major changes in the future, comprising a complete redesign which includes default end-to-end encryption and a desktop application.
Facebook said its Messenger app has been rebuilt from the ground-up to be lighter, faster, and more secure.
“This completely re-engineered Messenger will begin to rollout later this year,” Facebook said.
Other new features in the messaging app include the ability to watch Facebook videos with friends while messaging or on a video call.
Facebook will also launch a dedicated Messenger desktop application for Windows and MacOS, which will support group video calls and multitasking.
The redesigned application will include a dedicated space for viewing Stories and messages with close friends, along with improved ad features for more relevant and interactive advertisements.