Facebook and The World Without Apps

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Posted: April 24, 2017

There’s been a lot of buzz around Facebook – primarily because of the murder that took place on Facebook Live coupled with Facebook’s failure to recognize it and pull down the video in a reasonable time. Apparently Facebook spent a lot of effort building systems to recognize copyright violations (which causes them issues) and little on technologies that recognize harmful acts (this causes victims issues, but not Facebook directly).

Facebook’s ability to recognize a murder in progress wouldn’t have helped the victim here – he would have been dead before the police could have gotten there. However, if Facebook focused their attention on determining the scope of a live session, then in abuse or rape scenarios, they’ll be able to get help there before the ‘event’ is over. A valuable use of the technology, I imagine.

Anyway, back to the WWA.

At Facebook’s conference this month, Facebook highlighted their plans for augmented reality. Augmented reality is a different variant on the World Without Apps. Instead of interacting with your environment (your home, your car, your office, etc) or your smartphone via voice as I’ve highlighted in this site, with Facebook’s approach, you’ll socialize in a virtual reality world. This ‘world’ is essentially served by an app, and anything you do in that world will be exposed by an app running in the cloud somewhere (exposed through your virtual reality goggles). Extra capabilities provided by third parties? Basically extensions to the app. So, it feels like where Facebook is going is the opposite of the WWA – they’re planning (if I can oversimplify here) one big app you ‘live’ in…virtually.

When interacting with the ‘real’ world, Facebook’s plan is that you’ll do it through special glasses that add a computer screen in front of your eye or on a wall or table. Initially this feels like an extension of the WWA, but it’s not. Zuckerberg said “We don't need a physical TV. We can buy a $1 app 'TV' and put it on the wall and watch it.” So Facebook is still focused on apps; in this case, selling you additional functionality to use in an augmented reality world.

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