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Facebook releases Facebook 360 for Gear VR

Facebook has been slowly increasing focus on sharing video, most notably with Facebook Live. Like Google Plus/YouTube, Facebook supports uploading 360-degree photos and video. If you have a Gear VR, you can now use Facebook's 'Facebook 360' application for viewing immersive content on the go.

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Facebook Messenger is testing a new UI, "M" assistant chat integration, and more

Facebook Messenger is an extremely popular app these days; in fact, it currently has over 1 billion downloads on the Play Store and holds the #1 position in the "Top Free Apps" chart. There's a reason for this - it's extremely handy to be able to communicate with anyone you're friends on Facebook with instantly; no phone number or email exchanges are necessary. Now, a redesign and integration for Facebook's upcoming "M" personal assistant is being beta tested.

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Facebook tests out more bottom tabs and 'Direct Share,' another Snapchat clone

A few weeks ago, we reported on Facebook's testing of a new bottom navigation bar, showing 'Home' and 'Explore' feeds. We've now received word that Facebook is testing some more bottom tabs, except this time, they've been moved from the top.

The tabs, which were previously on the top under the app bar, have now been repositioned to sit at the bottom, much the same as the Facebook app on iOS. The app bar has been slightly re-designed as well, with a new layout and icons. There are also less tabs on the bottom, with the Friends and Marketplace entries missing, although other screenshots we've received have the Friends tab, so Facebook may be testing multiple iterations.

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Facebook videos in the News Feed will now play with sound on, other changes too

Facebook's had video for a while now, and while it doesn't yet rival YouTube for overall views, it's definitely seeing more and more people watching things as they browse. Accordingly, we're all used to scrolling through the Facebook News Feed and flicking a video's sound on. Everyone is going to have to get used to not having to do this anymore, as Facebook has announced sound will be on by default for any video as it's scrolled past.

Videos will play with sound as they're scrolled through in the News Feed, then stop once they've disappeared from view. This change is almost certainly going to be controversial.

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Facebook testing a bottom navigation bar in its app

Facebook is well known for being a rather liberal user of A/B testing, having seemingly hundreds of tests going on at any one time across its increasingly diversified product line. We've come across a new one, courtesy of Google+ user Fedor von Bock, which sees Facebook testing out a navigation bar at the bottom.

Even though the screenshot below has a bottom navigation bar, it is obviously apparent that the main tab bar at the top remains. For me, this creates a confusion over app hierarchy, ultimately baffling end users by having multiple things that go to different places. The tab bar also does not follow the material guidelines, which say two or less options should use tabs instead, and have icons, not word-based descriptions (obviously Facebook can not do the former, because the tab bar at the top is still there).

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Facebook is hoping to supplant your weather app

Facebook is still trying to be your one-stop shop for everything. We've seen the social media platform evolve in ridiculous leaps over the years, the latest evidence of that being a weather section. While it shows only the most basic information, it's still an interesting step.

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Two years after release, Facebook Lite has over 200 Million users

Is today is low-bandwidth and slow internet celebration day? Because after Google officially announced YouTube Go, the Youtube app for offline use and low bandwidth consumption, Facebook is following up with a bit of news from its Lite app.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared that Facebook Lite now has more than 200 Million users. The app was released in January of 2015 as a solution for users with less capable phones, less bandwidth, and slower internet connections. Even though Lite feels like nothing but a wrapper for the Facebook site, it has native Android notifications which you can still get with Chrome from the Facebook site, and more permission requests than you can shake a stick at, but on the upside, it weighs less than 2MB, works on 2G network speeds, and is compatible with devices going as far back as Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

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Facebook helped make Chrome's page refreshing up to 28% faster

Back in Chrome 54, Google introduced changes to the way pages are reloaded. The change was partially thanks to Facebook, who has been working with various browser vendors to improve browser caching. While the change isn't brand new, Google and Facebook are eager to share how well it has been working.

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Facebook starts testing Sponsored ads in Messenger

Facebook Messenger is used by a lot of brands and businesses to communicate with their users, customers, or fans. According to Facebook, 1 billion messages are sent on the platform each month between businesses and users. So it only makes sense that Facebook wants to monetize that and businesses want to take advantage of it to reach more users with special offers or product ads. And that's what Facebook is starting to do.

In the coming weeks, a test group of people in Thailand and Australia will start seeing ads in their Facebook Messenger app. These will show up on the Messenger home screen below recent conversations, as is the case with birthday notifications or the list of currently active users.

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Hugo Barra is joining Facebook as the new head of Oculus VR

Former Googler Hugo Barra announced recently that he was leaving his gig at Xiaomi, where he's worked as a global VP since 2013. Everyone was wondering where he would go, and now we know. Barra is Facebook-bound. Specifically, he's going to be the head of Oculus VR at Facebook.

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