Facebook’s F8 developer conference: What to expect, how to watch, stay updated

What to expect at Facebook’s F8 developer conference: More live video and more bots

Live video has been top priority for Facebook in the past two months. It wants live video to take off, which is why it’s paying media organizations and celebrities to use the product, bumping live video up in people’s News Feeds to increase viewership, and overhauling its app to encourage more live video creation and consumption.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at F8 2015.
Facebook isn’t done talking about live, either: It’s going to come up again this week at its annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco.

F8 is the event where Facebook rolls out new products for people who either build their business on Facebook (businesses on Messenger) or use Facebook tools to make money for their apps. This year, we expect Facebook will focus on two big themes: Live video and Messenger, the company’s standalone messaging app with more than 900 million active users.

On the live video front, Facebook plans to roll out new tools to encourage video creators to broadcast more high-quality video. “Going live” on Facebook currently means shooting video on a smartphone, but if Facebook wants to entice major media organizations to use the product, they’ll need to be able to accommodate TV-like production value. F8 would be a good place to start that conversation.

Facebook is also expected to launch tools to help developers easily build chatbots into its messaging app, Messenger. At last year’s F8, Facebook launched a Messenger platform alongside a few retail partners. The idea was that users could chat back and forth with a retailer to track or change a product order (among other things). Since then it has added more partners, including Uber and Lyft to help people arrange a ride through the app.

Chatbots are in that same vein: Software programs intended to automate user conversations with brands and retailers. So you could chat with a local restaurant to arrange a reservation, for example, without ever speaking with another human. The point of all this is to get people using Messenger to interact more with businesses. That can only happen, of course, if businesses can build these chatbots inside of Messenger.

As in years past, expect Facebook to make some announcements for app developers, too. Facebook already has a bunch of products that let developers do things like sell ad space inside their app, or let users login to their app with their Facebook account.

If Facebook is selling developer ad space and knows who it’s targeting thanks to its login feature it can offer the same kind of personalized ads off Facebook that it does on Facebook. And that means a lot more potential revenue. So these tools matter to Facebook, and you can bet the company will revisit them again this year.

By Kurt Wagner/ recode.net
What to expect, how to watch, stay updated:

Chatbots and a Live Chat API for Messenger

Facebook Messenger has hit 900 million monthly active users and the company recently rolled out new features to its chat app, including Messenger Codes, Messenger Links, and Messenger Usernames to make it easier for people and businesses to communicate.

According to reports, Facebook also intends to make it easier for businesses to employ canned responses using chatbots in its app. Rumored to already have provided developers with API tools to build chatbots and Live Chat plugins, Facebook is likely to announce support for bots in Messenger during tomorrow’s F8 keynote.

Chatbots are not groundbreaking and it was only a matter of time until Facebook rolled out support; apps like Telegram, WeChat, Skype, Line, Kik, and Slack already employ bots to allow users to perform task ranging from hailing a  ride to ordering Taco Bell. During Build 2016 Microsoft also announced new tools to let developers create AI bots, and Google is said to be developing a new messaging app with AI-powered chatbot support.

Video: Immersive and Live

Facebook rolled out a slew of new features to Facebook Live, its live video streaming feature, last week. The company is investing heavily in video specifically live video and we’re likely to hear more about this during the Future of Video on Facebook segment on the first day of F8. We do not expect to see more new Live features, but you never know.

What is likely to get a lot more attention and possibly exciting announcements are 360 videos. A number of sessions focus on the technology behind 360 video and optimizing videos for Oculus Rift, Facebook’s VR headset.

Instant Articles open to all publishers

Back in February Facebook announced that starting April 12 at F8, Instant Articles will be open to all publishers “of any size, anywhere in the world.”

Facebook said it is already working with “a few hundred publishers” worldwide to bring their content directly into reader’s Facebook News Feed.

For those not in the know, Instant Articles, launched last May,  are intended to counter slow loading times on mobile web by putting content directly in a reader’s feed instead of linking to the source. Publishers are able to sell ads in articles and track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools.

Focus on monetization strategies for developers

A session on mobile monetization for publishers using the Facebook Audience Network and one on best practices for monetizing native ads, both scheduled for day two, point at a focus on helping developers earn more money building on top of Facebook’s tools and services and possibly new features coming to Facebook’s ad platform.

Following news from Microsoft last month that Facebook will release universal Facebook, Instagram and Messenger apps for Windows 10 as well as extend its Facebook Audience Network and App Install SDK to Windows developers, we expect the social media giant to make this announcement official tomorrow.

By Collen Kriel / siliconangle.com