Facebook Spaces makes virtual reality a social experience

A recent push by Facebook to add camera features to smartphone apps will help the company popularise similar features, Mr Zuckerberg said. Options for different eye colours, hairstyles, facial features and more are also offered for further customization. Facebook's cartoon-like graphics will be automatically generated from any photos you tag that have been uploaded to your profile.

New AR tools will enable users to place virtual objects into the real world that can be accessed by others, letting you leave virtual messages on the fridge for family or paint invisible graffiti. Whether it's ordering dinner through partner delivery.com or offering to help you pay back a friend via Facebook's payments product, the feature will aim to provide useful tools during conversations.

It'll start with an avatar that you can customize to look just like you, and from there you can invite other Facebook friends to hang out in Spaces, or you can call them with Facebook messenger and invite them into a VR chat. It's all pretty basic stuff focused around having fun at the moment, everything feels quite a bit more light-hearted than the cold, bulky Oculus hardware you're using to experience Spaces. So, are you ready to step into the "digital reality" with Facebook? Since you can not come, only four friends are allowed within a space at a time, and just stare at each other's faces. Spaces is launching in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch on Tuesday and is available at the Oculus Store.

Facebook Spaces launches today as an Oculus Rift and Touch beta. For the Gear VR, Facebook has shown off Facebook 360, an app for viewing 360 photos and videos. It may sound like an odd idea, and it's not clear how compelling the experience will end up being, but it's actually quite simple: Messenger users would see a live stream of the virtual world of the Rift user's private space, while the Rift wearer would see live video from the Messenger user's phone.

Bots will also play a greater role in Messenger's future, with a new tab called Discovery introduced to the Messenger home screen which will include featured and trending bots. It will make it possible for more than one person to interact with a third party app or business at the same time. But there's no doubt that many people are going to get a kick out of video-chatting between the real world and the virtual world.

  • Carolyn Briggs