F8 Recap: Bots, Messenger, and VR

Today’s the first day of Facebook’s F8.
Here’s all you need to know from this morning announcements…. How will Facebook get more 360-degree video
in the News Feed and VR content on Oculus? By inventing its own virtual reality camera
from scratch and open sourcing it so people can build their own and start shooting. Today at F8, Facebook revealed the “Surround
360”, a 17-lens 3D VR camera that looks like a UFO on a stick and requires almost
zero laborious post-production work, unlike most VR rigs. Facebook won’t be selling
the Surround 360. Instead, later this summer it will put the hardware designs and video
stitching algorithms on Github. All the parts can be bought online for $30,000. Also at F8, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled was
that Messenger and WhatsApp see 60 billion messages sent daily versus 20 billion for
SMS. Put simply, Facebook chat is 3x as popular as texting. These figures were announced alongside other
significant updates to Messenger’s platform, including support for “chatbots,” which
are software utilities that work on top of Messenger to aid with things like customer
service, e-commerce transactions, and other interactive experiences.
As expected, Facebook unveiled the Send and Receive API at its F8 conference. It lets
you create bots for Messenger to search for things and interact with businesses. But what
if you want to use machine learning and create more complex scenarios? Meet the Bot Engine,
Facebook’s more powerful bot framework. The Bot Engine is goes live today.
While chatbots might be the highlight of today’s F8 conference, Facebook is also releasing
a slew of tools for developers that help them build, grow, and monetize their apps. Account
Kit is a new plugin for apps that lets users signup with their phone number or email address,
not just their Facebook login. Also announced today was Facebook Profile
Expression Kit, which gives third-party developers a way to publish videos recorded on their
apps as profile pictures on Facebook. Facebook Live will ALSO give third-party developers
a chance to participate. The API will allow both hardware- and software-makers to integrate
with Facebook Live. Last but not least, Facebook is opening up
Instant Articles to all publishers today and unveiled their 10 year roadmap. To recap…chatbots, messaging, live video,
and VR technology are the future of Facebook.

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