Don't look now, but Facebook, The Social Network, is fast becoming a multi-faceted, platform-as-a-service cloud provider.
At its ninth annual F8 developers' conference March 25 at Fort Mason in San Francisco, the social network announced the following:
—that it has launched a new app development platform based on its original Messenger that will enable video exchange, payments and a list of other functions to be handled within messaging, rather than Web-based apps;
—that it will soon provide support for "spherical videos"—immersive, 3D-like videos for its standard news stream;
—that it has made available a free Analytics for Apps application; and
—that it has added an embedded video feature that enables users to take embed code from a Facebook video and put it directly into a Website.
Now More Than Just 'the Blue App'
Whew. There's still a full day left in the F8 conference—what could be next? We'll find out.
"Facebook used to be this single blue app," co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his leadoff keynote. "It did a lot of different things. Now Facebook is a 'family of apps.'"
We'll get into the detail of what Zuckerberg was talking about a bit later in this story. Meanwhile, here are overviews of each of the above items:
—Messenger Platform: Launched March 25, this new package enables developers to add Messenger features to other apps, whether they're running on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry. "Messenger Platform is for building apps that help people connect," Zuckerberg said.
Third-party app developers using Messenger Platform now have a better way to reach Facebook's millions of users on any device they use. Apps built on the platform install the Messenger service directly into the existing ecosystem of iOS and Android apps. This ostensibly makes Messenger a direct competitor with other messaging platforms, such as Chatter, Jive, Jabber, WeChat and Line.
Last week, Facebook revealed an all-new payments system on Messenger that enables users to send and receive money directly on it, instead of using email or another Web app. Thus, complete buying or selling transactions can be accomplished on a single messaging thread, rather than several non-connected email or Web-based interactions. "Easier for the user" is what is driving all of these app changes.
Facebook said it plans to promote these integrated apps in its own app store.
Here is a listing of the first group of Messenger Platform parters: Action Movie FX, Bitmoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, ClipDis, Ditty, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, Emu, ESPN, FlipLip Voice Changer, Fotor, GIF Keyboard, GIFJam, Giphy, Hook'd, Imgur, Imoji, JibJab, Kanvas, Keek, Legend, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PicCollage GIF Cam, PingTank, Pyro!, Score! on Friends, Selfied, Shout, Sound Clips, StayFilm, Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, UltraText, Wordeo.