Facebook dives deeper into the Internet of Things

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook extends Parse to build IoT apps.

Facebook is extending Parse, its suite of back-end software development tools, to create Internet of Things apps for items like smart home appliances and activity trackers. Parse, the platform-as-a-service company Facebook acquired in 2013, today revealed a couple of new features at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco: Parse for IoT, Enhanced Sessions to improve app security, support for React and a new debugging tool. Out of these, the IoT announcement would have come as quite a surprise if Facebook hadn’t spoiled its own announcement thanks to an errant notification from its conference app last night.

Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar, now a product director at Facebook, told an audience of developers that they will soon be able to use the platform to build mobile apps that connect the social network to a raft of Internet-connected devices. At its F8 conference today, the company announced Parse is coming to the ‘Internet of Things.’ Parse currently supports Android, iOS and Windows Phone mobile operating systems, as well as OSX, Windows, Javascript, .NET, Unity, PHP and Xamarin software. With the launch of several software development kits—SDKs in industry parlance—developers can incorporate data collected by those devices across Facebook’s platform, extending their reach within the company’s portfolio but also extending Facebook’s reach across new devices. Garage door manufacturer Chamberlain, for example, has already used Parse for its app to let people open and lock their garage door from their smartphones.

This isn’t completely new for Parse thoughl; it’s been working with things other than smartphones and tablets – like Arduino’s – for a while now. Or, hypothetically, the maker of a smart gardening device could use Parse to incorporate notifications into their app to remind the user to water their plants, said Ilya Sukhar, CEO of Parse, during a keynote talk at F8. It pretty much offers a comprehensive backend service for mobile apps already (which is what it started out as, after all), but IoT offers a logical next step for the service, even though this may seem like a stretch for Facebook at first. Smarter versions of kitchen appliances, light bulbs and even garage doors pop up everyday; it’s up to developers to figure out how they can use their connectivity to deliver a better product.

In addition, Parse announced support for the React JavaScript library, which now makes it easier for React developers to access and store data from Parse. Last year growing cloud provider Google announced the Cloud Debugger, but other than that, there haven’t been many efforts among cloud providers to deliver internal debugging services. Time will tell if Facebook decides to expand into a broader cloud provider that could take on the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

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