This year’s Connect keynote is done and dusted, with Facebook revealing more details about the “Metaverse” (aka what it thinks is the future of the internet), as well as a new VR headset, a name for its upcoming AR glasses project, and, oh, an entirely new company name.
Here is how you can watch the action unfold for yourself, plus a quick summary of all the major announcements coming out of Connect 2021.
What is Facebok Connect?
Facebook Connect is the name of Facebook’s annual developer conference for all things virtual reality. For seven years, it was called Oculus Connect. Since the pandemic, Facebook has moved Facebook Connect to an entirely virtual conference, with no in-person component.
Also, Facebook has begun pitching its conference as not only a showcase for its latest virtual reality efforts but augmented reality, too.
When is Facebook Connect 2021?
Facebook Connect started 28 October 2021 at 10am PT.
How to watch Facebook Connect 2021
What happened at Connect 2021?
Here’s a look at the biggest announcements coming from Connect:
Facebook has started on its journey to introduce the Metaverse – an interconnecting online concept that helps users shared software, games. and experiences virtually across multiple devices. During its annual Facebook Connect presentation, it set the wheels in motion and outlined some of its plans. However, the company has also told Pocket-lint that this is a large-scale project that could take the best part of a decade to realise.
Like Horizon Workrooms unveiled earlier this year, Horizon Home is a virtual space for different users to gather, communicate, and collaborate. But, it is less corporate and more consumer, with a Horizon Home becoming the new front-end experience for an Oculus Quest 2 VR experience.
You can build and customise your Home, launch other experiences through it, watch movies and live events, and even invite guests to join you in avatar form. You can then group together for activities, games or viewing. On top of this, the team announced that there will be more apps available for multitasking, including Slack and Dropbox. This is, what Facebook calls, “an early” taste of how the Metaverse will connect people.
Fitness is a major focus for Oculus this coming year.
So, it’s not surprising that, during Facebook Connect, Facebook announced Active Pack, a set of Quest 2 accessories coming next year that make the headset easier to use with fitness apps. This includes new grips for the Touch controllers and an exercise-optimised facial “interface” that protects the headset and makes it easier to wipe down after you’ve built up a sweat.
Zuckerberg revealed a new VR headset is in the works.
Called Project Cambria, it’ll be an upgrade to the year-old Oculus Quest 2 – but not a replacement headset. It will offer an improved mixed reality experience, complete with face and eye-tracking and more compact optics. Facebook only briefly teased Cambria, but it did say it packs cameras that can pass high-resolution, full-colour video to the headset’s screens.
Facebook didn’t mention a price or a release date for Project Cambria, but Zuckerberg called it a “completely new” product at the “high end of the price spectrum”. It’s supposed to include next-generation features that Facebook can’t include in the Quest range, and yet, it’ll arrive in 2022.
Facebook also announced the code name of its first fully AR-capable smart glasses: Project Nasaray. The company did not mention when the glasses will be released. Zuckerberg said, “We still have a ways to go with Nasaray, but we’re making good progress”.
Last but not least, Facebook has rebranded. No, not the social network, but the company behind it.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced during Connect 2021 that his company’s new name will be Meta. It’s a fitting name given Zuckerberg spent the majority of the Connect keynote outlining the “Metaverse“, or what he thinks is the future of the internet. Zuckerberg basically said he thinks the name “Facebook” doesn’t quite cover everything his company does right now, and that the Facebook brand is so “tightly linked to one product”.
Zuckerberg said he hopes Facebook will be seen as a “metaverse company”.
Is that it?
There were a few smaller announcements:
- VR game “Blade and Sorcery” is coming to Oculus Quest 2 on 4 November 2021
- “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” is also coming to VR on Oculus Quest 2
- Facebook made a free app, called Polar, that will let iPhone users design AR effects
- Facebook Messenger on Oculus will soon handle audio calls
- Facebook plans to invest $150 million in VR learning experiences