2016 Roundup: Facebook's Big F8 Announcements

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 20 Apr, 2016

Facebook hosted its annual F8 Developer Conference last week, and the social network made several big announcements that Web professionals should know about.

Thousands of people attended both days of the conference and more than a million people watched it online according to Facebook. This popularity isn't surprising, as the conference has been home to numerous big developments in the past, including in 2015 when Facebook unveiled Businesses on Messenger and in 2014 when it unveiled its Audience Network. This year, however, the focus was on connectivity.

Learn more about some of the conference's headline-making announcements below:

* Facebook Live API - The success of Facebook Live has led the social network to open up its API so developers can design more ways for people and publishers to interact and share videos in real time.

* Bots for Messenger - Facebook announced bots for its Messenger platform at F8. For those that are unfamiliar, bots have become a popular tool in messaging apps for simulating conversation and automating tasks.

Facebook notes that as part of the new Messenger platform, bots can provide anything from automated content like weather and traffic updates to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications and live automated messages. What's more, businesses can leverage the social network's Messenger Send/Receive API to build a custom bot for Messenger that supports everything from sending and receiving text to images and interactive rich bubbles containing multiple calls-to-action (CTAs).

* Profile Expression Kit - This update enables people to use third-party apps to create profile videos that show off their personality. When someone makes a profile video with a supported app, the video can be shared in their Facebook News Feed and showcased at the top of their profile. What's more, the News Feed story includes a link to install the app that was leveraged for the video. The feature is currently in closed beta, however, and is kicking off with support for just six apps, including Boomerang by Instagram, BeautyPlus, Cinmagraph Pro by Flixel, Lollicam, MSQRD and Vine.

* Account Kit - Developers can better grow the audience for their apps with Account Kit, which gives people the choice to log into new apps with just their phone number or email address. Facebook notes that this service is complementary to Facebook Login and doesn't require people to have an account on the social network.

* Save Button - Facebook is making its Save button available to sites off the social network. With the button, people will be able to save articles, products and videos from across the Web into a private list on the social network.

* Artificial Intelligence - At F8, Facebook's Applied Machine Learning team gave some insight into the AI backbone that powers a variety of Facebook experiences. The team also shed light on its research efforts to enable better ways for people to connect, including new capabilities like language translation, image understanding that allows photos to be searched for and classified better, as well as ways to classify videos in real-time to help people navigate the increasingly popular content type being shared every day.

The six aforementioned updates are just a few of the many that Facebook unveiled last week at F8. What was your favorite announcement? Let us know in the Comment Section below.