10 Important Takeaways From Facebook's F8 Developers Conference

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-04-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    10 Important Takeaways From Facebook's F8 Developers Conference
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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'
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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
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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
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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?
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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
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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.
 

The 2016 edition of Facebook's F8 developers conference that took place April 12-13 was an opportunity for Facebook to not only unveil new products, but to also show that it can think beyond social networking. In fact, during his keynote address, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent little time talking about social networking, focusing instead on the new things his company has planned. At F8, Facebook announced new chatbots for its Messenger platform, demonstrated its commitment to connect more people around the world to the Internet, and made abundantly clear that it believes virtual reality and artificial intelligence are the industry's next frontiers. In many ways, Facebook's F8 showcased to the world how much bigger and how much more of a threat the company is to traditional technology giants than initially believed. Read on to find out more about the F8 conference and the announcements that have both startups and major companies interested to see what Facebook does next. Suffice it to say that Facebook has high hopes for the future.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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