10 Important Takeaways From Facebook's F8 Developers Conference

10 Important Takeaways From Facebook's F8 Developers Conference
Chatbots Were the Star of the F8 Conference
Facebook Is Keeping Messenger and WhatsApp Separate
Surround 360 Camera Was a Major New Initiative
Zuckerberg Is Committed to Virtual Reality
Don't Forget About Artificial Intelligence
It's Time to 'Save to Facebook'
Free Basics Still Matters
Facebook Is Promoting Faster Connectivity Around the World
What's Going On in Building 8?
Facebook Is No Longer Just a Social Network
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10 Important Takeaways From Facebook's F8 Developers Conference

Facebook used its F8 developers conference to prove that it is more than a social networking service. Here is a look at what else Facebook is doing.

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Chatbots Were the Star of the F8 Conference

The big announcement at the F8 conference was Facebook's addition of chatbots to its Messenger platform. Several small and major companies, ranging from Poncho to HP, have already signed up for the service. The chatbots allow companies to connect with Messenger users and interact with them in new ways. Poncho, for instance, will give a weather forecast, provide recipe ideas and more. All a user needs to do is ask.

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Facebook Is Keeping Messenger and WhatsApp Separate

Facebook Messenger and Facebook-owned WhatsApp might both technically deliver messaging capabilities, but they're decidedly separate. CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked up Messenger's new features, while other Facebook executives discussed on the sidelines their recent efforts at improving encryption across all of WhatsApp's apps. While it might seem odd that Facebook has two chatting apps, they seem to complement each other well.

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Surround 360 Camera Was a Major New Initiative

Facebook showed off a concept camera at its press event called the Surround 360. The camera comes with a slew of sensors and is designed to be used as a concept for other hardware makers to develop 360-degree video for the company's platform. The most important factor for developers is that Facebook open-sourced the device, making it much easier for companies to build their own Facebook-ready 360-degree camera.

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Zuckerberg Is Committed to Virtual Reality

Mark Zuckerberg made it clear on the heels of the Oculus Rift launch that his company is committed to virtual reality. In fact, he included a graphic during his presentation that showed the technology pillars that will underpin Facebook's business. Not surprisingly from the guy who owns Oculus, Zuckerberg said virtual reality and augmented reality would be on that list.

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Don't Forget About Artificial Intelligence

In addition to virtual reality, Zuckerberg said he believes artificial intelligence is a major growth area going forward. He pointed to his company's smart assistant Facebook M, along with chatbots, to prove computers can do very important jobs. And over time, artificial intelligence will only grow and become critical to any company's operation, Zuckerberg believes.

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It's Time to 'Save to Facebook'

Facebook wants users to make its social portal a destination for content elsewhere on the Internet. The company announced the "Save to Facebook" button, which will allow users to go to a site, find content and save it for consumption later on Facebook. It's similar to Apple's own reading list, which lets users tag interesting things they see but might not have time to read or watch in that moment.

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Free Basics Still Matters

Free Basics has faced its fair share of trouble in India and Egypt, but that hasn't troubled Zuckerberg. Quite the contrary, the Facebook CEO seems committed to the future of his free Internet service, saying that it can have a profoundly positive impact on people in emerging markets where Internet access isn't available. Whether he can get over concerns about net neutrality, however, remains to be seen.

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Facebook Is Promoting Faster Connectivity Around the World

In addition to getting Internet to the people, Zuckerberg is also committed to delivering faster connectivity. At the F8 conference, Facebook announced two connectivity projects—ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum) and Terragraph. ARIES is designed to boost connectivity speeds on historically slow wireless markets. Terragraph, meanwhile, will attempt to improve connectivity in congested urban areas. Together, Facebook believes those services can improve connectivity around the world.

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What's Going On in Building 8?

Facebook is creating a research and development lab similar to Google's Project X. Dubbed simply "Building 8," it will be home to Facebook's top innovations and R&D efforts. Facebook even hired Regina Dugan, one of Google's top research executives, to lead the effort. Look for interesting things to eventually come out of the mysterious Building 8.

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Facebook Is No Longer Just a Social Network

If the preceding slides say anything, it's that Facebook is no longer just a social network. Facebook is also an Internet provider, a technological innovator, a gadget maker, a game seller and much more. Facebook has grown up in a big way, and the F8 conference suggests it's not yet done growing.

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