Key Takeaways of F8 2017: What you Need to Know
More than 1,700 developers and Facebook Marketing Partners from all over the world, travelled to San Jose to attend the annual Facebook F8 Conference. Our CEO Achmed together with the CCO Sander and our Account Director, Bob, travelled together with some of our clients all the way to California to be part of this experience and learn first hand about the newest Facebook network features and plans for the future.
This blog is a recap of the most important updates from the annual Facebook conference.
Kick off with keynote speech from Mark Zuckerberg
It’s the first conference since founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a 10-year plan for Facebook last year, focusing on technologies that will completely transform the way we use the platform. This year’s conference kicked off with a keynote speech from Zuckerberg, where he unveiled new Facebook products and focused heavily on augmented reality, a more powerful Messenger and a virtual reality version of Facebook itself.
Messenger chat extensions
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that its Messenger service has reached 1.2 billion users. No wonder that the social network launched a few new Messenger features during this year’s conference, including new Chat Extensions for group chat conversations. Chat Extensions let you use Messenger bots so you can watch a sports game and get information on current sport scores, or collaborate on building a Spotify playlist together with your friends. Compared to their predecessors, the bots will be less chatty and instead act more as assistants or tickers rather than conversation partners, better matching what’s feasible with today’s trends in technology.
The other big announcement that was made is the launch of a Discovery tab on Messenger, where people can see their recently used bots, browse bot categories, see trending experiences or search for specific bots. Before starting a conversation with a bot, you will be able to check out a preview screen to find out what a bot does before you jump into a conversation with it. Whereas last year only simple search was possible, Facebook improved the bot experience by recommending the best bots, helping people find ones for the right occasion, and potentially sell sponsored placement in the discovery tab for businesses willing to pay.
Moreover, Facebook revealed that it is expanding its M Suggestions (Facebook’s virtual assistant) that uses Al to scan your conversations and recommend Messenger features to use. From now on, M will suggest bots from outside developers that could serve a need that users are talking about. So if someone says ‘we should order food tonight’, M will recommend delivery.com’s bot for making an order.
Messenger QR Codes
Finally, Facebook has revamped its Messenger QR Codes, which can be easily scanned with Messenger’s camera. You can scan them at concerts, sport games and other events. After you’ve scanned them, a Messenger bot will provide you with more information. For example, the Golden State Warriors basketball team can print out different codes and put them around the arena. One code could trigger a food delivery to your seat and another could show you a merchandise catalog. Luckily, Facebook is launching tools to help businesses generate these codes. With these new features, Facebook wants to boost its presence in the physical world, create a new way to discover chatbots, and get people deep into specific bot experiences like e-commerce. If Facebook can get more businesses using these QR Codes, it could convert them to doing more of their marketing and customer support on Messenger.
These new updates could give bots on Messenger more power and traction. Bots are not new. In fact, Facebook launched Messenger bots already last year, but users were not entirely sure yet how to use them. At F8, however, Facebook proved to have improved its Messenger bots, not only helping users and developers but also businesses to make use of this feature. Businesses like SnapTravel show that in-chat commerce is starting to grow, with $1 million-worth of hotel bookings inside Messenger. Don’t forget the fact that Messenger is used by more than 1.2 billion users – plenty of opportunities for business to grow their bots.
Virtual reality & augmented reality camera effects platform
Since its last developer conference, Facebook has made huge strides in terms of 360 video and virtual reality experiences, now allowing 360 video and photos to be shared on the site. At this year’s conference, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that copying Snapchat was just Facebook laying the groundwork for its new augmented reality developer platform. You can build AR selfie masks, create interactive games and add virtual objects to your reality. With the launch of Facebook Spaces, friends can hang out in a virtual room where you can chat, draw, watch 360 videos, make Messenger video calls, and take VR selfies – all while appearing as a cartoony avatar based on your recently tagged photos. Facebook wants to soak up the long engagement time people might spend hanging out with friends and family scattered around the world.
When it comes to Instagram, engineer Hendri announced that offline users will from now on be able to see content previously loaded in Instagram’s feed when offline. In other words, people will be able to leave comments, like things, save media and unfollow people even when they have no data or connection. Having the option to be active when offline could help Instagram to grow in developing countries where data is either too expensive for everyone to afford or there aren’t enough stable data connections. This will present a big opportunity for Instagram and users to enjoy the app even in isolation. With this new feature, Instagram shows that it is aware that everyone everywhere wants visual communication.
If you want to find out more and watch the videos of the F8 Conference, check out the Facebook Developer website.
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