Facebook F8 Preview: Mobility, Messenger And More

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Facebook app made for the network’s annual conference appears to have leaked some of the company’s biggest planned updates..

Facebook on Wednesday will kick off a two-day conference, aimed at collaborating with thousands of developers on new features for its social network and apps.Facebook is expected to announce a lot of news at its F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco later on Wednesday, but thanks to an apparent error by the team handling the official conference app, we got some early clues about what’s coming.

Having an official companion app for your developers conference might seem like a nice touch to make the tech-savvy attendees feel at home – but Facebook will be the first to tell you it can backfire. On Wednesday morning, the official F8 app sent out a notification to users that named some of the stuff that’s about to be revealed later today, including a mystery app or feature called the “Teleportation Station.” “The Garage and Demo areas are now open! Just revealed: Parse for IoT, Messenger as a Platform, and the Teleportation Station.” The alert seen by Multiple people seems to indicate that Facebook will reveal a version of its mobile app building suite Parse for “Internet Of Things” devices. If the rumors are true, we could soon be able to use advanced photo tools, conduct searches, share travel arrangements and perform other tasks as a part of Facebook Messenger. The social network’s F8 conference is getting under way in California, but a notification sent out from the F8 app appears to have been a little premature – revealing three big updates.

Considering the social network recently rolled out a peer-to-peer payments feature via the platform, it’s no surprise that it is readying Messenger to be much more than it is right now. First things first – Parse is the name of Facebook’s tool for developers that enables them to access the back end of the website and work on integrating their software. We reached out to Facebook about the exact meaning of the notification, and the company has “nothing to add on this.” Pointedly, no denial or note that this is a hoax. While IoT refers to the “internet of things” a group term for connecting everyday appliances to the internet, the second two points are particularly interesting.

Facebook previously said that all its major products would see announcements at F8, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, along with Parse and Messenger. This could mean a greater Facebook presence in things you do already in the home – posting about wanting to watch Breaking Bad could prompt your smart TV to find it on Netflix, for example. “Messenger as a Platform” sounds as though it refers to a further widening of the gap between Facebook and its instant message service Messenger. Judging by the notification’s text, it may have accidentally been sent early when it should have gone out mid-day tomorrow after the F8 keynote from 10am-11am PST when the major product announcements will be made.

In a move similar to Snapchat Discover, Facebook is rumoured to be bringing news content inside its walls rather than providing links to outside news sources. Facebook’s F8 conference runs today and tomorrow, and serves as Facebook’s biggest chance of the year to show off updates and new products to developers and customers. Media companies already rely on Facebook to help spread and disseminate their content, so this could potential be a very big move from the technology giant. If this is actually an accidental but legit Facebook message, it points to the company yet again expanding its horizons to consider how and where it could enable communications between people beyond its core Facebook platform. We may also learn more about its Internet.org initiative that aims to bring web connectivity to the 4 billion people worldwide without Internet access.

Zuckerberg has in the past described the site as each user’s personal newspaper – telling of birthdays, weddings, graduations – and now he wants this to apply to wider news as well. But Facebook’s contemplation of IoT is not new, with execs at the company wondering aloud back in 2013 about where Facebook’s social graph could fit into a wider network of connected objects. (And I’d argue that moves like making Messenger into a platform are signs that Facebook is not exactly as tied to the concept of sharing with your wider social graph in a public way as it used to be.) Parse, too, has been dabbling with the idea of IoT for a while, although not directly. Follow tech reporters Karissa Bell (@Karissabe) and JP Mangalindan (@JPManga), as well as Mashable’s Twitter account (@Mashable for everything you need to know in real time. So far, we haven’t heard much about Facebook’s plans for its work-based social network so the F8 conference could be the perfect place to drum up some support for it. Facebook has been widely demonstrating the capabilities of the new Cresent Bay edition of the VR headhead over the last several months at different events.

And given that today is actually the one-year anniversary of the acquisition, this could be a ripe moment to open up the platform to more input from developers. (There is also a more prosaic option: the “teleportation” hinted at here could refer to developers having a better way of simulating apps.

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