How Facebook Messenger Is Getting Cooler

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook expanding Messenger app’s versatility as people gravitate outside its social network.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is trying to mold its Messenger app into a more versatile communications channel as smartphones create new ways for people to connect with friends and businesses beyond the walls of the company’s ubiquitous social network.

On Wednesday as he took the stage at the F8 developer conference in San Francisco we saw how successful he’s been at bringing that vision to life, not just with apps that Facebook has acquired—such as WhatsApp and Instagram—but those the company built itself. Messenger will also be adding the ability to display store receipts and shipping information to help consumers keep track of their interactions with merchants and other businesses. Facebook today introduced new software development kits for its Parse mobile app development platform, to let developers incorporate data from Internet-connected devices. The push to plant more features in Messenger underscores the growing importance of apps that enable more intimate and direct conversations than social networks.

More than 30 million apps and sites use Facebook’s developer tools; 94 percent of the top 100 grossing iOS and Android apps in the U.S. are integrated with Facebook; last year Facebook drove more than 3.5 billion app installs; people shared 50 billion pieces of content from apps to friends in 2014; and Facebook paid out more than $8 billion to developers in the last five years. Zya Ditty is a text-to-autotune generator that lets you compose up to a 70-character message, pick a background song from among several popular, recognizable tunes, and chill out for a few seconds while Ditty stitches together a 20-second music clip and text-based music video out of it.

At launch, licensed song choices include Sia’s “Chandelier,” OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars,” and The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” among others, as well as public-domain songs. The results look and sound like this: “There’s an ingestion process where we study the melody of the song and the phrasing of the original melody versus what a user types in,” says Dean Serletic, head of licensing for Zya Music. “The syllable count could be entirely different. Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and several other tech companies have announced products or strategies for the burgeoning field, where sensor-laden gadgets can provide more layers of insight into operations and chelp companies make better decisions. Today’s move in particular makes sense given that startups providing platforms for building and running apps have been talking about or releasing services for or talking about handling data from the Internet of things.

The feature is live for select publishers today. “For publishers this means a much greater experience,” Facebook said. “For people, this means a more unified conversation … We’re rolling this out more broadly shortly” in beta, Facebook said. The company also announced an expansion of its ad tech offerings, so marketers can go to Facebook to buy ads not just for the social network, but across all publishers. You can compose a text-to-song creation, save it to your camera roll as a video, and then share that video with any service that supports video attachments.

Building on its LiveRail start-up acquired last year, Facebook’s enabling publishers to use LiveRail to manage all their ad inventory, now including video and display ads. It describes this as extending “Facebook’s people-based approach to all publishers.” What that means is that marketers will be able to tap into Facebook’s demographic info to better target ads to consumers, with the goal of achieving a higher ROI. In Asia, the number of active apps on Parse increased by almost 90 percent in the first half of 2014, Parse founder Ilya Sukhar announced in December. Kinvey cofounder and chief executive Sravish Sridhar thinks Parse’s expansion into IoT might have some considerable implications for Facebook that could go beyond just app building. The first wave of licensees is from the Sony/EMI catalog, and Serletic says Zya’s goal is to get 100 songs on offer within 90 days of the app’s launch.

As he explained in an email to VentureBeat: If a few IoT use cases and apps take off on Parse, the data from and access into the connected devices could ultimately extend Facebook’s “social graph” with a larger IoT graph, which would open up a larger advertising opportunity for Facebook. Serletic says that experience should help them grow out the song offerings quickly. “What we’ve found is that something as simple as nursery rhymes are immensely fun,” says Serletic. “The idea that whatever you have to say can be put into classical music or something we all heard in elementary school… You always want to build something engaging, but when you’re building it and having fun and laughing your ass off at the same time, that makes for the best products.” And for the very most ridiculous messages.

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