Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees the phone as the bridge product to the widespread adoption of augmented reality (AR), and the company is basing some long-term strategy on it.
Zuckerberg, addressing developers at Facebook's F8 summit, said the camera would play a larger role in the interaction between members of the social network and encouraged developers to concentrate on broadening the capabilities of photography through new apps. A closed beta period is now open for developers to add AR-powered effects to the Facebook app's camera.
The goal is a fully immersive messaging ecosystem that allows effects to be added to photos or videos and control the view based on where the camera is aimed.
Facebook is making available new software, AR Studio, which could eventually lead to dedicated AR glasses that do not need a phone to function.
In the VR category, the company launched Facebook Spaces, an app that allows VR communications between friends via Oculus hardware.
The app is in beta and allows users to create an avatar to live message and interact in a VR Hangout through Facebook Messenger.
Messenger also gets some new chat functions including an extension that allows more than one person to interact with popular apps like Spotify, for group interactions with playlists.
Facebook also enhanced its M virtual assistant to interact with third-party apps to order food or shop online.
Facebook isn't stopping at virtual worlds. Zuckerberg addressed the future and it is somewhat frightening. "We're building further out beyond augmented reality, and that includes work around direct brain interfaces that are going to eventually one day let you communicate using only your mind," Zuckerberg said. But, he admitted, "that stuff is really far out".
Here is the entire 21-minute address: