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5 Key Announcements from Facebook F8

By Marketforce
May, 2018

Marketforce’s Technical Lead, Ben Derham was on the ground last month at Facebook’s Developer Conference F8, in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose.

The F8 conference is Facebook’s annual developer conference, where over the two days of the event, Facebook showcase new tools, innovations and work from the global Facebook developer community.

There was a lot of fantastic announcements made during the event, but these are the 5 that stood out for us.

M Translations

One of the most impressive features announced was M Translations. Facebook’s intelligent assistant M, will be able to interpret words in bilingual conversations.

During F8, translations between Spanish and English conversations were rolled out in the Facebook Marketplace. There was no word on when this will roll out across the Messenger Platform globally, but it will continue to appear in Marketplace conversations over the coming weeks. It brings a little more meaning to the phrase ‘it’s a small world we live in’.

Augmented Reality in Messenger and Instagram

There was a big focus on Conversational Commerce on Messenger, to add an new level of user engagement in this space, Augmented Reality is being tested within the platform. A number of brands in the US have been working with Facebook on developing unique customer experiences on Messenger.

Nike created a ‘Shoe Drop’ experience, where people can get an exclusive look at the latest sneakers through an AR red carpet experience. When they are done playing with the AR, they can get more information and order the shoes, without leaving the Messenger platform.

Sephora built an experience where a user can try on make up and try out different looks, then follow through to purchasing the products. Again, without leaving the Messenger Platform.

In addition to adding AR to the Messenger platform, the ability to embed a Messenger window onto your business’ website. This allows a customer to contact a business via Messenger from the website, using all the same features they are used to in Messenger, then pick up the conversation later from any device they are using with Messenger installed.

Oculus Go

The Oculus Go was launched at F8. The Oculus Go is a completely standalone virtual reality headset, meaning that no complicated PC set up is required to get into a VR experience. The great thing about the Oculus Go is that is has the same, if not better specification as the Oculus Rift, which does require a full PC setup.

The Oculus Go costs about $250, making it a reasonably priced gateway into VR.

Developing applications for VR is also a little easier, with the release of React 360. A version of the popular React JavaScript framework, adapted for use in VR. Combining this with the relatively cheap price tag of a headset,  the costs of creating virtual reality experiences for a brand is considerably reduced.

Privacy Updates

Data Privacy was a hot topic of conversation throughout the conference was. Mark Zuckerberg’s message to developers was that there is a need to rebuild the user trust shattered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. After admitting that Facebook had messed up on the privacy front, Zuckerberg announced a few new features and some policy updates to the Facebook platform.

Clear History is a new feature designed to give users more control of the data that Facebook collects. Users will be able to see which apps and websites are sending Facebook information, delete it and prevent them from using their data again. Clear History is still a while away, and it remains to be seen whether or not it is just a token effort to repair some of the damage from the recent fallout.

There is to be more transparency surrounding political advertising, allowing users to see exactly who is paying for a political ad. On top of this there is to be a stricter verification process when starting a political Facebook account.

Developers are now subject to much tighter scrutiny on submission of their apps to Facebook. All current apps with access to data are currently undergoing a strict review process, and developers are being encouraged to take more responsibility for privacy control in their applications.

This is being enforced by the GDPR in Europe, however it’s a global issue and all developers should be taking a little more care.

New Tools for Developers

Facebook launched some fantastic new open source tools for developers to use in their applications. These tools include Pytorch 1.0 for deep learning in AI, wit.ai for adding natural language recognition to bot and voice applications, an augmented reality platform and an overhaul of the Messenger development tools.

Many of these tools are used behind the scenes at Facebook, and power some of their latest and greatest innovations, such as a machine learning powered anti-bullying filter for Instagram comments. We are very excited to be able to use these tools in some upcoming projects.

If a video is more your thing, Ben presented this run down of F8 at Fenders Perth.