This week Facebook unveiled the future of Messenger, live video, chatbots, artificial intelligence, and Internet-beaming satellites at its annual F8 conference in San Francisco.
Here’s everything Zuckerberg and team announced.
Facebook announced that it’s opening up its Messenger platform, allowing businesses to create chatbots for the service. This means you’ll now be able to interact with an AI-powered “representative” from a business right inside Messenger.
Facebook announced a set of partners for its livestreaming product and opened up its live API, which it plans on building out in the next five years.
Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s Internet.org program will launch its first satellite in the next few months. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Free Basics initiative has now helped more than 25 million people around the world get online. Facebook also announced a Free Basics simulator for developers.
Facebook created (and will open-source) a 360-degree camera to capture virtual reality imagery for its Oculus Rift headset. Along with the camera, Facebook built software to stitch the footage together as a seamless 360-degree video.
Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, showed how to take a selfie of yourself and a friend inside a virtual reality 360-degree photo using the Oculus Rift headset.
Facebook announced the beta launch of Bot Engine, a tool for teaching chatbots what to say in specific types of situations. The technology — which developers can use in association with the Send/Receive API for building Messenger bots — comes from Messenger’s Wit.ai team, David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging said.
As promised, Facebook opened up its Instant Articles offering to all publishers, allowing anyone to import their content into the social network and add it directly to a user’s feed.
Facebook showed off its latest unconventional equipment for bringing better Internet connectivity to more people. There are two new projects: the Terragraph antennas for distributing gigabit Internet in densely city environments using both Wi-Fi and cellular signals, and the Aries array of radio antennas for delivering wireless signals to devices in rural areas — where you don’t always get 4G LTE connections today.
Facebook announced the launch of Account Kit, a piece of new software third-party developers can add to apps that will let users sign in with just an email or a phone number — no passwords necessary.
Facebook is making its “Save to Facebook” button — which adds content to a list of things to look at later — available for use on websites other than its own. Facebook introduced the Save button in 2014, and it has racked up more than 250 million users each month.
Facebook announced a new way for users to clip quotes they like on the Web and then share them in a clean and neat way in the News Feed. “We have special content types around songs and albums or fitness, like runs,” Facebook product manager Eddie O’Neil told VentureBeat in an interview. Quotes are just the newest option.
Microsoft and Facebook are announcing today that the Facebook-led React Native open source software for native mobile app development is getting Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support. The new UWP development software is available now.
Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Facebook’s director of Applied Machine Learning, showed off two specific efforts:
- Generating captions for the things people say in videos.
- Identifying the people who appear in videos, so that they can be tagged and even associated with specific times in the video, so that users can get right to the moment when a person first appears in the frame.
Zuckerberg said that virtual reality and augmented reality of the future will be accessible by a powerful gadget that looks like an ordinary pair of glasses. VR and AR are expected to become a $120 billion business by 2020, according to tech adviser Digi-Capital.
Facebook showed how researchers are trying to make social interaction in VR indistinguishable from real life, so that you can meet with friends or see family members or go on virtual dates.