Facebook’s F8 app hints at big changes for Messenger

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..

The social network’s F8 conference began today, but some users of its official app have reported seeing notifications about announcements already. 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. 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. The event, held at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, will delve into a variety of topics including video, virtual reality and Facebook’s popular Messenger app. Parse is Facebook’s backend tool for developers, Messenger is the instant messaging platform that seems to be in the process of being broken off from the main site, and the “Teleportation Station” does not seem to refer to any previously announced product.

The company’s stock has been trading at record highs since last week, buoyed by optimism it can use a widening user base to keep attracting advertisers and fend off challenges from Twitter and Google. Facebook previously said that all its major products would see announcements at F8, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, along with Parse and Messenger which the notification hints at. 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. If the company can offer more reasons for people to stay on the social network by working with developers to create more features, it could boost ad sales, analysts said. “The more they can keep you engaged and locked in and consuming the ads, the more money they are going to make,” said Rob Enderle, with advisory services firm Enderle Group. 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.

More than 2 000 app makers are set to attend, eager to hear what Facebook has in store for the developers who depend on the platform to build mobile apps, add users and make money. Relationships with mobile developers give Facebook additional real estate for the more than 1 million advertisers it serves and intelligence on which startups are growing fast. At this year’s F8 – the name comes from spending eight hours outside your normal workday to work on passion projects and learn about new technology – the agenda includes such topics as security, Facebook’s data infrastructure and ways to get the most out of the network’s programming interface. 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.

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 in any case 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, but you can see how and why this would make perfect sense and potentially position Facebook to provide a development layer for the explosion of connected hardware that we are seeing these days. The Menlo Park, California-based company has been expanding in mobile advertising as it competes in that business with big technology companies such as Google and Apple Inc. The only thing that I can think of is that Facebook is taking its Oculus activities up a notch, and inviting developers to come along on the journey. The company has also recently added a payment service to its Messenger chat app, and is building some products that remove the need for third-party apps — such as a photo-layout app for Instagram that undercuts programs like Pic Stitch. At F8 last year, Zuckerberg told outside developers that Facebook would give its users more control over the information they share with external programs accessed through its site.

The app uses Facebook member profiles to determine the events they might enjoy and which of their friends may attend. “One thing we’re looking for is some consistency,” he said of this year’s conference. “In terms of permissions, it was an all-you-can-eat sort of thing, and now it’s more a la carte, where people can pick and choose which permissions to give and which permissions they can’t.” “It’s been performing very well for us, and it’s only available on the native app right now,” he said. “We’d like if it could move to mobile Web as well.” Some developers say the benefits of building for Facebook’s platform outweigh the potential drawbacks. Last year’s move by Facebook meant that Threadflip Inc., which runs an online marketplace for secondhand clothes, will need Facebook’s approval to access users’ extended networks to support a feature that lets a person recommend purchases to friends. “It’s additional work for us, but I agree with the changes they’re making,” said co-founder Jeff Shiau, also Threadflip’s chief technology officer. “It’s definitely challenging to keep up with the platform. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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