Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his keynote speech during the company’s F8 developer conference Tuesday to announce a redesigned Facebook app and website. The new app will be available Tuesday to U.S. consumers, and come to the rest of the world in the first half of the year. Facebook’s new desktop version will roll out in the coming months.
“This is the biggest change to the Facebook app and website that we have made in the last 5 years,” Zuckerberg said.
The redesigned app and website put a major focus on Facebook Groups, which Zuckerberg painted as an effort to strengthen the company’s “digital town squares.” Facebook Groups are already being used by over 400 million people, he said, adding: “We believe that there is a community for everyone.”
These efforts include a new groups tab and recommendations for new groups throughout the app. Facebook will also bring more content from groups directly to a user’s newsfeed.
Facebook will also start to add new features to groups, including dedicated chat functionality for gaming groups, the ability to post without your name in self-help groups, and ways to flag potentially harmful groups. “We are very focused on safety here,” Zuckerberg said.
In addition to the new focus on groups, the Facebook app will also feature a redesigned user interface, which includes completely ditching the color blue. As another sign of a visual refresh, Facebook is even giving itself a new icon, which now includes animated images.
Some other features announced for the new Facebook app include a feature to discover new friends, additional features for Facebook’s dating service, shipping services for Facebook Marketplace and a new events tab, which is scheduled to launch this summer.
The announcement of the new Facebook app and website was in many ways a sign that Facebook’s traditional newsfeed business isn’t going away any time soon. That’s despite the company’s recent commitment to a major shift to privacy-focused products, which was also evident during Zuckerberg’s keynote speech.
“I believe that the future is private,” Zuckerberg announced during the opening minutes of his speech, detailing how the company was going to use Messenger and Whatsapp to strengthen private communication between its members. “This isn’t just about a few new features,” he said, arguing that Facebook was instead rebuilding itself from the ground up with a focus on private messaging.
This new focus will go along with Facebook still monetizing its existing app and newsfeed business, which is a theme that Facebook app VP Fidji Simo recently previewed during her keynote conversation at Variety’s Silicon Valleywood conference. “Both the town square and the living room are important,” she said during the event, which was her first public appearance since her promotion to lead Facebook’s app.