Facebook hires Apple veteran to lead virtual reality hardware efforts at Oculus

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants the company to own the future of virtual reality, and in the short term that means putting a lot of VR headsets on a lot of faces. Even for a company with nearly 2 billion monthly active users, hardware is still an incredibly difficult beast to master. To do so, the company is hiring Michael Hillman, a 15-year veteran of Apple, to lead the VR product roadmap for Oculus as head of VR hardware.

An Oculus spokesperson tells Bloomberg that Hillman will work closely alongside Oculus COO Hans Hartmann in his role.

The organizational structure at Oculus has grown increasingly peculiar over the past few months, with the virtual reality company growing much closer to its parent company Facebook. In December, co-founder Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO to lead the PC-based VR division. Unlike other siloed Facebook products, such as Instagram, Oculus will soon report directly to an executive in Zuck’s inner circle, the recently hired Hugo Barra, joining from Xiaomi to lead VR efforts.Hillman worked in senior engineering and design roles at Apple where he worked on products like the iMac. According to his LinkedIn, Hillman spent his final four years at Apple working in a confidential hardware role. Hillman is listed as an inventor on a number of Apple patents related to displays and battery technologies. Hillman left Apple in 2015, later joining Zoox, an autonomous vehicle startup.

 Hillman adds another degree of separation between Facebook’s top brass and the original Oculus co-founders, a group that has recently been divided into organizationally separate mobile and PC-based hardware teams. While former Oculus CTO John Carmack and Chief Software Architect Michael Antonov are now working on the mobile team’s software advances, Iribe and former VP of Product Nate Mitchell are separately leading efforts on the PC-based Rift hardware.

With Hillman coming aboard as head of VR hardware, it’s worth noting that Oculus has already shown prototypes that look beyond its current Mobile/PC-based org structure. At the company’s OC3 developer’s conference late last year, Oculus gave press previews of “Santa Cruz,” its wirelessly tracked all-in-one prototype headset. An Oculus executive told TechCrunch that the company’s standalone headset was being developed under a separate team outside of the PC-based hardware division.

The company’s current flagship virtual reality device, the Oculus Rift headset, was released one year ago with more than a healthy amount of delays caused by manufacturing issues, something that caused quite a bit of anger among early adopters who were already upset by the headset’s higher-than-expected $599 price tag. The company released its Touch motion controllers for the Rift in December and last month slashed the prices of both the controllers and headset by $100.

Facebook Now Lets You Sign Into Android Apps With Mobile Number

Facebook at its annual developer F8 conference earlier this year showcased its Account Kit authentication system. The new system was essentially a new way Facebook wanted people to log into any app instead of the traditional ways. The company has now updated its Account Kit developer tool which lets people sign in to Android apps using Facebook’s instant verification system.

Facebook Now Lets You Sign Into Android Apps With Mobile NumberFacebook’s Ethan Goldman-Kirst, Software Engineer with Identify Tools team, in a blog post explains the instant verification process, “When a person enters his/her phone number into an app using Account Kit, via Android services, we attempt a match with the verified phone number listed on the person’s Facebook profile. This is only possible if the person is logged into the Facebook app on the same device.”

Developers can now take advantage of the new instant verification by integrating the new Facebook SDK for your apps or sites using Account Kit.

Ethan further adds that if there isn’t a match, a SMS will be sent to verify and complete sign-in process. “If there is a match, we can complete the verification without sending a one-time password (OTP) via SMS, making the sign-in flow more seamless. If there isn’t a successful match, a SMS will be sent with a verification code to complete the sign-in. This feature is used only to improve the verification process in a secure way and no additional Facebook information is shared with the app.”

Facebook claims that there has been 97 percent conversation rate in the initial tests which means people entered an app through the instant verification system. The company named Familonet as its early partner which is an app that helps people stay safe by letting them share their location with friends and family in real-time. “Account Kit phone number login increased their registrations by 40 percent. Recent implementation of instant verification lifted their conversion rates by 5 percent, and this continues to rise,” adds Facebook team.

Facebook Testing New Browser for Its App

Facebook Testing New Browser for Its App

Social networking website Facebook is testing an improved in-app browser that would allow users input their own URL should they want to check another page without leaving the Facebook app, a report claimed, citing users who were seeing the new interface on their iOS app.

Besides the aesthetic shift, a new bar on the bottom tells you how popular a post is, includes back and forward buttons, lets you bookmark pages, and has a menu button which likely includes a few more features too, The Next Web reported Sunday.

The only big feature that appears to be missing is tab support, but the new browser is quite close to approximating a full-fledged app.

fb_new_browser_twitter.jpg

With a good enough browser, the Facebook app could essentially become a self-contained ecosystem of its own, it added.

The browser is only available to a small subset of users (iOS only), but most public test features end up receiving a wider roll-out a few months later.

Facebook last week began rolling out its Reactions feature to Japan, making it the sixth country to thus far receive the augmentation for the Facebook Like. The feature was first made available only for users in Spain and Ireland, back at launch in October. It has since been rolled out to Chile, Portugal, and the Philippines.

Although Facebook has not mentioned where it will bring the feature next, it is expected that the emoji-based Reactions will soon reach more countries as well.

The emoji-based Reactions show: “love,” “yay,” “wow,” “haha,” “sad,” and “angry,” and are similar to regular emojis used in chat.

Facebook introduces live video streaming to take on Periscope

Facebook has announced that it is rolling out a new Live video broadcasting feature on its iOS app. The Live feature allows users to record and share video in real time using the Facebook appl. The new feature is Facebook’s take on Twitter’s popular live video broadcasting app called Periscope, which is available for Android, iOS and Apple TV.

Facebook Live feature

After Live is enabled, you will find a new “live video” option when you tap to create a status update. The Live feature will allow you to share a live video feed from the phone’s camera. Once you select “Go Live” option, you will see names of your Facebook friends who are watching, and whatever comments pop out.

Facebook’s live-streams won’t disappear after 24 hours, as they do onMeerkat and Periscope. Instead, broadcasted video replays will show up on your timeline and stay there until you decide to delete them. The new feature will be initially available for iPhone users in the US before rolling out globally and for other mobile platforms.

Facebook to optimise News Feed and introduce offline feature for slower connections

Social networking giant Facebook has been making improvements to its mobile app from time to time to enhance the user experience. Now the company is introducing more updates for its app to improve the way users use the social network on slow internet connections. The brand is improving its News Feed in order to have it work seamlessly and in a speedy manner, regardless of where you are in the world and the connectivity.

Facebook new update

The company said that some of the changes to be made include depicting relevant stories in the News Feed for the users who are stuck with a slow internet connection. Also, users can post comments on the News Stories even when they are offline. The Facebook app will download stories upon startup for quick loading.

“Our mission with News Feed is to connect people with the stories that matter most to them, but if people’s News Feeds aren’t loading because of poor internet connections, we can’t show them the most relevant stories. People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets, and in most cases they’re doing so on mobile via 2G connections. To improve News Feed so it works seamlessly and quickly for people in all parts of the world, we’re focused on designing it to operate well regardless of device or network connection,” the company said in the blog post.

Facebook is testing an update that will immediately display relevant stories which haven’t been seen by the users yet. Also, the Facebook app will rank relevant and downloaded stories upon startup. These updates should  help users engage better with content on the social network even if their internet connectivity is poor.