Facebook hopes to kill the username and password

At its F8 developer conference, Facebook announced Account Kit, a new way for app developers to let users sign up for services with an email or phone number, no username or password required.

Fb-account-kit
An extension of the existing Facebook login system, Account Kit is designed for developers who want an easy way for users to create accounts without having to sign in using Facebook.

Account Kit lets developers drop in code that will speed up the account-creation process. Instead, a user can use an email address or phone number. Users will receive a confirmation message via SMS or email to get setup.

If this sounds a lot like Digits which is part of Twitter’s Fabric development platform that’s because it is.

The idea is to reduce the friction it takes to sign up for an account within an app. And although we’re sure Facebook would prefer that users sign up for an app with a Facebook account (app developers would probably prefer that too), solving the problem of user sign-ups is important. And if Account Kit can help with that, it ultimately means more developers are using Facebook’s developer tools and platforms.

Account Kit is available for iOS, Android and web and mobile web.

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You can now build bots for Facebook Messenger

At its F8 developer conference, Facebook unveiled a new Messenger platform that allows developers to build bots inside Facebook Messenger.

Bots are hot; they could even be the future.

At its a heart, a bot is nothing more an an app that runs automated tasks based on input. So “run backup” could have a bot that backs up your data to Dropbox or whatever.

The modern era of chat bots work with chat apps – including Messenger – and use real language to determine what task to complete.

In the demo early in his keynote, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed how bots inside Messenger could deliver news to users using CNN.

The CNN demo looks similar to the mobile app that news site Quartz launched earlier this year. Users are delivered a digest of what’s happening in the world. Users can then ask the bot for more information about specific news stories.

Zuckerberg also showed off a demo with 1-800-Flowers, where users can order flowers from Messenger, without having to actually call.

On stage at F8, David Marcus Facebook's vice president of messaging products dismissed the idea that bots were simply command line interfaces. "We think that the combination of UI and conversation is what is going to make this work."

He also said pointed out examples of bots that go beyond commerce and media. One app, Poncho, can help users know whether they need an umbrella before going outside.

Launch partners
Developers can start building bots for Messenger. now. Facebook is already launching bots for Messenger with a number of companies, including Bank of America, Burger King, Fandango, eBay, Expedia, Salesforce, Shopify, Staples, StubHub, Zendesk and Zingle.

What the bots do depends on the integration. Bank of America, as an example, will let customers get real-time alerts and communications through Messenger.

Fandango is offering customers a way to find movie times, get theater locations, view trailers and get links to buying advanced tickets.

Build smarter bots with Bot Engine
Most developers will probably build their bots with the Messenger Send/Receive API. This supports sending and receiving text along with interactive reply bubbles with multiple call-to-action responses.

But for developers who want to go even deeper with bots, they can use Wit.ai's Bot Engine. Wit.ai was acquired by Facebook last year and is the basis of Messenger's M assistant. It differs from the typical Send/Receive API because it lets developers use machine learning and natural language to offer better responses.

Ad products coming
Although Marcus reiterated that users would have control over what bots could do and how they could message users, that doesn't mean there isn't an ad revenue stream in this for Facebook.

Marcus says that soon developers will be able to buy Facebook ads that will take users directly to their bot.

News that Messenger was going to get a Chad SDK were first reported back in January by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine.
By Christina Warren / mashable.com

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