Facebook debuts Messenger AR and translation tools for businesses

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On the first day of its F8 2018 annual developer conference in San Jose, California, Facebook announced a number of initiatives created to expand the use of augmented reality (AR) across its family of apps, including support for third-party AR filters in Messenger, Instagram and more.

That was the obvious conclusion when Bloomberg reported that Facebook would be delaying the announcement of its rumored "smart speaker" in March, and today CNBC is reporting that Facebook might wind up releasing the speaker in global markets first - to test the waters, if you will.

Facebook on Tuesday also announced it's updating AR Studio with new capabilities, including visual programming that lets you drag-and-drop custom animations and logic into a scene without writing any JavaScript.

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If you're a business interested in incorporating AR effects into your Messenger experience, you can sign up for our waitlist here and be notified when this feature becomes more broadly available.

Now, businesses will be able to use Facebook's Camera Effects Platform to prompt people to open Messenger's camera function, which then will be loaded with filters and AR effects for that brand.

Additionally, Facebook announced that Messenger is getting a feature that allows companies to show users products in augmented reality before they buy them. Sephora for example will allow users to try on some make-up looks, and then share photos or videos with their Facebook friends.

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Facebook Messenger announced that starting today, its intelligent assistant M will be able to interpret words in bilingual conversations. Buyers and sellers connected through Facebook's Marketplace will have the option of using Messenger's intelligent bot to translate messages from English to Spanish, and vice-versa.

Facebook says it also plans on expanding the feature to Messenger users in the U.S.in coming weeks - so keep an eye out for it.

What's the point? David Marcus, vice president of Messenger, said in a blog post that with many products, people need to "visualize a product... without ever having to set foot in a store" - though he doesn't mention a little company up in Seattle that has done pretty well selling stuff online without AR or a messaging app.

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M Suggestions now operate in 11 countries and are available in English, German, Spanish, French, and Thai.

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