Facebook unveils new changes, fresh features, dating section and more

During the first day of its F8 conference today, Facebook announced a bevy of new features and changes to the social networking platform with a focus on private spaces, communities, dating, and events. Of course, those are in addition to a new, lighter version of the Messenger app that Facebook is working on called LightSpeed.

One of the subtle changes Facebook introduced is a redesigned icon that has a lighter blue color around the "f" logo. Additionally, Facebook Groups will be taking a more prominent spot on the platform as part of the social networking site's effort to help connect people with the same interests.

The redesigned Groups tab will make it easier for users to see more group activities through a personalized feed and search for new groups that may be of interest to them. As Facebook also puts emphasis on communities across the platform, users can easily receive relevant group recommendations in other sections of the app including Marketplace, Today In, Gaming, and Facebook Watch. Additionally, different communities on the site will start receiving new features including the ability for members of health support groups to anonymously post questions and share sensitive information, a new template for employers and a direct messaging tool for job seekers in job groups, and a dedicated chat feature for gaming communities. These changes are available only on Facebook's mobile app for now.

As it promised earlier last year, Facebook also launched on mobile today a new dating section that lets users find their match across the service's different communities including groups, friend networks, and events, among others. Facebook Dating is now rolling out in more countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, and Suriname in addition to Colombia, Thailand, Canada, Argentina, and Mexico.

A major part of this feature is the "Secret Crush" tool that's obviously meant to take on dating app Tinder. It allows users to list up to nine Facebook friends that they have a crush on. The feature basically matches people who have a mutual romantic feeling for one another.

There's also a new opt-in tool that lets people add new friends from shared communities like workplaces, schools, or common hometowns. The feature is currently being tested in a limited set of locations before it hits public release in the near future.

Another upcoming feature is the capability to ship items on Marketplace to any place in the U.S. and make direct payments via Facebook. Also, Facebook will be rolling out the new Events tab this summer to help users keep tabs on the latest happenings nearby, receive recommendations, search for local businesses, and plan activities with friends.

Facebook's other services are also getting new features. WhatsApp, for example, will be providing a business catalog from within the app for conversations between sellers and customers. It will go live in the next few months.

Instagram will also roll out a straightforward option for users to shop from creators within the app beginning next week. In addition, there's a new camera feature coming next week that will let people post creative content without using a photo or video, they'll only have to use stickers and effects. Also available in the U.S. from today, a new fundraiser sticker in Instagram Stories allows users to raise money for the causes or nonprofit groups they support on the platform.

Finally, Facebook says it is rolling out the Portal and Portal+ smart displays in Europe this fall in addition to incorporating WhatsApp into Portal. The Alexa-enabled device will also add a voice command feature this summer to let you receive updates on any event or occasion by just saying “Hey Portal, Good Morning”. That's on top of other upcoming capabilities that build upon Facebook's partnership with Amazon including new visual features and Alexa skills for Portal, Flash Briefings, and smart home control. The Amazon Prime Video app will also be added to Portal later this year, plus the integration of Facebook Live into Portal soon.

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