Facebook F8 Event Highlights Tools for Developer Community

At Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company would “refocus” on the developer community by spotlighting technologies that “enable developers and businesses to build and grow” on its platforms. The company announced, for example, that the Messenger API for Instagram is now available to all developers. It’s also adding third-party tools to its Facebook Business Suite, which was launched last year. Going forward, PyTorch will be Facebook’s default AI platform.

ZDNet reports Facebook director of product marketing for business messaging Ankur Prasad said that, “opening up the Messenger API for Instagram will enable key automation tools on Instagram for the first time, accessible only with the API … [adding that] the services powered by the API will also help improve the relationship between customers and businesses.”

That could include “tools that integrate Instagram messaging with order management systems to let live agents instantly look up a person’s order history.” Facebook is testing Login Connect with Messenger as “a way for people to opt into messaging with businesses.” The company also updated the WhatsApp Business API, reducing the onboarding process “from weeks to five minutes.”

The Facebook Business Suite, a platform where businesses can use the company’s tools to manage its Facebook, Instagram and Messenger activity, is adding third-party tools, “built by developers via a new Business Apps section.” Facebook also wants to “make it easier for developers to build augmented reality effects for group calls via its new Multipeer API.”

“We envision a world that is overlaid with a landscape of virtual objects that helps us share, learn and play together, regardless of the distance between us,” said Spark AR director of partnerships Chris Barbour. The Spark AR platform “now has 600,000 creators in 190 countries, with 2 million AR filters and effects created to date.”

Facebook also announced that its PyTorch deep learning framework will be “the default framework for building all of its AI and machine learning models going forward … [because it] not only makes our research and engineering work more effective, collaborative, and efficient, it also allows us to share our work as open-source PyTorch libraries and learn from the advances made by the thousands of PyTorch developers all over the world.”

CNBC reports that this F8 “marked Facebook’s first software developer conference since 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to cancel last year’s event.” The focus on business tools is due to Facebook’s effort to “enable more e-commerce transactions directly on its services and enable businesses to handle more of their customer support via Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.”

For WhatsApp, new tools include “list messages, which allow businesses to provide consumers with a menu of up to 10 options as they communicate.” Also new is “Reply buttons, which allow users to choose prewritten responses as they communicate with businesses.”

Related:
Facebook’s Spark AR Platform Expands to Video Calling with Multipeer API, TechCrunch, 6/2/21
Facebook Outlines Vision for Business Messaging, AR at F8 Refresh Conference, CNET, 6/2/21
Facebook’s Adding Multiplayer AR to Video Calls in Messenger and Instagram, CNET, 6/2/21
Instagram Opens Up to Help Businesses Handle Customer Service, The Wall Street Journal, 6/3/21