Top Stories From Google I/O and F8 2019

What with the Australian Federal Elections and International Star Wars Day, May was always going to be jam packed. Add Google’s 2019 I/O Keynote and Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference into the mix, and things get even spicier. 

Don’t have time to go through the speeches and extrude all of that steaming hot knowledge?  Don’t worry. We’ve got put together a crash course of our top picks from these two giant events that will get you from zero to Jedi faster than you can say ‘Yoda’.

Both Google and Facebook are under the microscope for, well, putting us under the microscope really. So it isn’t surprising that both summits this year were (not so) subtly influenced by the theme of ‘Privacy’.

Facebook jumped the gun and led with the big statement that ‘The future is Private’. On the flip side, Google’s response was far more implicit. Implicit in terms of their expansion of incognito mode and addition of bold disclaimers that all data is not shared.

And these two different approaches by Facebook and Google seemed to determine the breadth and range of updates they release. One, with Facebook undergoing a near total overhaul. And two, with Google trying to keep as low a profile as possible.

Keen to find out more about what it all means for you? Of course you are!

Facebook F8 2019

Integration of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp

Facebook integrates messenger instagram and whatsapp

In a move that has been a long time coming, Facebook used this year’s F8 conference to demystify what the integration of its three messaging services would look like.

The answer?

Something a little like how phone calls operate today. 

Just because I’m with telco A, it doesn’t mean that I can’t call you because you’re with telco B. Through this integration, Zuckerberg is hoping to put the focus back onto Close Friends by putting people back in touch – regardless of their communication app of choice.

Messenger is also getting a desktop version for Mac and Windows, along with a new appointment booking feature. Add in the huge developments in AI and messenger bots, and this means that Messenger could soon become a staple ingredient for any business’ CRM system.

Welcome to FB5

For a long time, Facebook has had news feed tunnel vision. They have been so obsessed with delivering the news feed that people want, that they have almost entirely neglected other elements of the customer experience.

Moving away from the algorithm momentarily, Facebook is undergoing an almost complete brand overhaul. The driving force behind these changes? 

You guessed it, privacy.

FB5 will put communities – or groups – right at the front of the experience. Users will be able to customise their feed based on Groups that they want to follow. And the app will suggest more groups for you to join – depending on what you are doing in the app. More gaming group suggestions if you are playing games, more buy and sell groups if you are using Marketplace, and so on.

So what will the new Facebook app look like, and what does this mean for your online marketing strategies? 

If you’ve been using their Messenger App, then the visual shift won’t come as such a dramatic change. Think more white space, a lighter shade of ‘Facebook Blue’, and overall lighter on system resources.

So, time to get the team around the drawing board and figure out what niche knowledge groups your brand can facilitate!

Portal gets promoted

Facebook portal updates 2019
Image Source: Engadget

2018, a year marred by privacy concerns, data breaches and court cases seemed like an inopportune time to launch a video calling device which has the ability to follow you around the room.

However, in Facebook’s own words, Portal has performed better than expected. And so, this has led to a slew of developments to position it as the latest smart-home tech. The kind that you can’t live without. We’re talking AR Games, Instant Games, supporting WhatsApp calls and a future integration with Amazon Prime Video.

It will even support Story Time, an augmented reality app that allows parents to read to their children from anywhere in the world. End-to-end encrypted, of course.

Facebook friends, with benefits

Ever found yourself stuck in the friend zone?

Don’t kid yourself, of course you have. Well, Facebook may well be about to become your most trusty wing-tech.

The social media giant is taking aim at popular dating apps like Bumble and Tinder with a new development called ‘Secret Crush’. This will allow people who have opted-in to see when they match with any of up to nine friends that they nominate.

This comes in conjunction with a ‘Meet New Friends’ opt-in feature that will help people to connect with others who attend the same school or university, or who live in the same area.

Improved eCommerce

Instagram checkout and shopping updates
Image Source: TechCrunch

Expanding their popular Marketplace platform, Facebook is making it easier for people to view, purchase and organise the delivery of goods. In addition to the updates to Marketplace, Instagram is also experimenting with new in-app payment methods and a cart option that will eliminate the need for bouncing between the app and websites. 

Basically, these developments will eliminate the “middle-man” steps fo the customer purchase journey. Anddd take the nightmare out of purchase logistics. Soon, sellers will also be able to ship their items anywhere in the U.S. by selecting from a variety of delivery service options.

Which means, you can bet that there’s going to be an upswing in online sales. So if you’re into eCommerce, you’d better get those products on social!

Unliking Instagram

Instagram has had an authenticity problem almost from the get go. And with the normalisation of the influencer influx (and a wave of would-be influencers), it was inevitable that soon everyone will begin to share the same sorts of highly curated moments.

Instagram Stories was aimed at getting to these ‘moments between moments’. And the media sharing app has now taken a new tact to get back to the good old days: removing the like count on images and making follower counts much less prominent.

This should, in theory, take the focus away from engagement and put the emphasis back on the quality of the content in and of itself.

Part of a trial that has been rolled out in Canada, though it’s uncertain as to whether these developments will become mainstream.

Google I/O 2019

A less controversial Google Assistant

google assistant updates 2019
Image Source: CNBC

At Google I/O 2018, the world watched on in stunned (and slightly disturbed) awe as the Google Assistant seamlessly called a hairdresser and booked a salon appointment. Without the person on the other end of the line realising they were not talking to a human.

In keeping with privacy concerns and a growing discomfort around the subject of AI, Google was careful not to overplay their hand in this arena in 2019. Major updates to their algorithm mean that the assistant can now bounce between apps much faster – booking Lyft rides, filling out emails, and pulling up photos quickly and easily. All without the ‘Hey, Google’ trigger sentence.

Captaining the autocaption

Google is bringing Live Caption to all of its Android videos. Which means that Android users – caught in that sticky situation of being stuck on public transport without headphones – will soon be able to add subtitles to what they’re watching in real time.

More content in transit. Less annoying your bus seat buddy. 

Movement, now incognito

google maps introduces a new incognito mode

Google Maps is working on developing an incognito mode. Aka users will be able to minimise location and search tracking. This comes soon after Google also announced that it was introducing a function that would allow users to automatically delete their location, web and app activity in periods of between 3 to 18 months.

Much of the data that Google has claimed it will allow users to automatically erase is what make it such a potent advertising platform.  So, it’ll be interesting to see whether these developments have an impact on the efficacy of SEM campaigns going forward.

And that just about wraps us up for the month. Need a stronger fix of digital news? Don’t miss our April digital updates blog!

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