Why Facebook’s Parse news is a big deal for the Internet-of-things

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook F8 Conference News: Parse Launches IoT SDKs.

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.

At Facebook’s F8 developers conference today, the social network announced a software developer kit for building applications for internet-connected devices on its Parse platform.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.

For example, Chamberlain, which is a manufacturer of garage doors, will be using Parse to allow people to open and lock their garage doors straight from their smartphone. “We’ve been listening to feedback from a wide range of Parse customers who are already using our platform in hardware products — like Chamberlain, who makes a line of smart garage door openers that interact with our REST API; Milestone Sports, who make the wearable running tracker Milestone Pod; and Roost, who make smart batteries for smoke detectors. Facebook bought the app building platform startup Parse two year ago. “At Parse, our passion is making developer experiences easier on any platform—including platforms that extend beyond mobile.

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. Of these platforms, one of the most exciting new spaces is the Internet of Things,” Parse founder James Yu wrote in a blog post. ”We believe that connecting more hardware devices with the cloud has the potential to change the world for the better. 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.

Installing one of Roost’s batteries into a smoke alarm sends alerts to the user’s smartphone if the alarm goes off, or it lets the user know if the smoke alarm’s battery is low. 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. 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.

For example, the company purchased Oculus VR last year for a whopping $2 billion, suggesting that it is interested in entering the virtual reality market. Capturing the all the data around how you live brings a whole new level of information to Facebook–helping the company out with its core business: advertising. 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. When Google bought connected home device maker Nest, many people suspected that the search giant was looking for more ways of collecting your personal data–but Nest insists that it’s keeps its data separate from Google’s advertising business for now. “A couple of years from now, all of the devices connected to us and each other are going to be just one seamless flow of information,” said Roost CEO Roel Peeters. “Facebook is making a major play in positioning themselves as a central cloud backend for IoT.

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. Facebook also announced today that it would be turning its Messenger app into a platform of its own, essentially meaning that developers can create apps for Messenger. They’re providing the infrastructure that enables developers in a simple and straightforward way to build on top of the Facebook platform–they’re just expanding their reach into a new developer community. But if you look at how Apple and Google are looking to expand beyond the phone, Facebook can look at parts of IoT as an extension of Facebook in the same direction.

Some are developing new hardware products, others want to provide the backend ecosystem for how everything will be tied together, but none of them have been able to offer a very clear vision yet of what this world will look like.

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