Facebook takes social network into virtual spaces

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Facebook is taking its social network into virtual reality with a new app allowing people to meet virtually in the same room.

Facebook Spaces, one of several announcements the company made during its annual F8 developer event, has been launched in beta for the Oculus Rift and Touch devices.

Users choose an avatar based on their Facebook profile photo, which they can then customise. 

They can then watch 360 degree video and photos, view historical updates from users' timelines or update their Facebook status from the virtual meeting place.

Users can also use Facebook's Messenger video calling service to bring those without compatible headsets into the virtual world.

Rachel Franklin, Facebook's Head of Social VR, said more features would be added over time, as well as bringing the service to more platforms.

She said: "We’ve only just scratched the surface of social VR technology. In the future, it will continue to transform the way people around the world stay connected with their communities and those closest to them. We can’t wait to get there."

Elsewhere, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put the camera at the centre of its conference, announcing a new augmented reality platform for cameras.

He said he wanted to offer developers the chance to build AR tools for those taking pictures and filming video through a new Studio.

A Frames Studio will allow people to edit pictures in new ways.

Additionally, a new programme is aimed at building offline, localised developer community. The company said: "Developer Circles are forums to share knowledge, collaborate, build new ideas and learn about the latest technologies from Facebook and other industry leaders.