Facebook just proved its future is all about video streaming

Facebook Live

Like it or not, Facebook Live isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Facebook's answer to Periscope is being imbued with a host of new features that will enhance the platform even further starting today.

The features focus around interaction, sharing and discovery. Some even take Live from its sort-of vanilla flavor of the moment to something much more fun.

But most importantly, the new features will likely be welcome additions to everyday Facebookers who aren't keen to broadcast to their entire friend list, or who want more ways to discover videos and engage with someone once they've "gone live."

Live... with just a few

To that first point is Live for Groups and Events, both of which are heading out the door today.

As the names suggest, users can now broadcast to a specific Group, such as one for fitness, or an Event, like a birthday party with family members who couldn't make it. Users can even create an Event to schedule a live Q&A, Facebook suggests.

Personally, I'm hesitant to stream a video that's viewable by everyone I know on Facebook, but if I can stream with family who I know have Facebook but may not Skype, I'm more likely to use Live than I would otherwise. It's a smart addition that will probably help some users feel more comfortable with trying the feature.

Let 'em know how you feel

Right now, the only way to interact with a Live broadcast is to Like it or comment. Facebook is changing that by introducing new ways to show how you really feel during a stream.

Live Reactions bring the same bubbly Reactions Facebook introduced to the News Feed to viewers, letting them respond to a video with a 'Love', a 'Haha', a 'Wow', a 'Sad' or an 'Angry' as they're watching it.

The reactions will pop up on top of the video and will disappear soon after they're posted (like Periscope's hearts), so viewers and broadcasters know what people are feeling.

There's a personal touch, too: If you're reacting to someone you know, then your profile pic and a little starburst will appear before your reaction does.

Facebook is also setting up a replay of comments for videos that aren't live any longer. Previously when someone was Live, a stream of comments rolled by as they were posted. When the broadcast wrapped up, those comments were still readable, but in a static state, just like a comment on a regular post.

That changes today as Facebook will replay comments as they happened during a live broadcast when someone rewatches the video later.


Very important filters and doodles

Facebook is also rolling out Live Filters for iOS. It will start with five and hasn't said what they'll be, but it should give users a more creative way to personalize their videos. More will be added later on.

The creative juices don't stop flowing with filters, though: the social network will add the ability to draw and doodle on a Live video "soon." Hear that, Snapchat?

Last, but definitely not least, is a new set of sharing and discovery features. You can now invite a friend to watch a live broadcast, sending them an invite someone straight from a live video. Just select the new Invite icon, pick a pal, and a push notification will make its way to your amigo.

If you're irked that you missed a cool broadcast or can't seem to find any you like, there's now a dedicated hub on the Facebook mobile app where you can find Live videos from a variety of users. Here, you can see videos from friends, people you follow or topics you're interested in, as well as search for live and non-live videos. Or, if the mood strikes, you can go live yourself.

To get to this Live video home, click on the new video icon in the mobile app. Users should start seeing it roll out today.

Finally, to wrap it all up, a new Facebook Live Map is coming to desktop. This will give those on a laptop or computer a visual representation of public live broadcasts taking place around the globe.

Users will start seeing all these new features on iOS and Android over the coming weeks, and Facebook promises even more Live improvements are on the way.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.