Facebook is holding its annual F8 developers' conference right now in San Francisco, but the company has already leaked some of its biggest announcements.
According to TechCrunch, The Verge, and several tweets, the official F8 app sent many users notifications on Wednesday morning, ahead of Facebook's main F8 keynote, which detailed three new Facebook projects: "Parse for IoT, Messenger as a Platform, and the Teleportation Station". Facebook hasn't confirmed it will discuss these projects, but the entire world is basically just playing the waiting game now.
The notifications not only suggested Facebook is expanding its Parse app-building suite to include the Internet of Things, but they also suggested Messenger will become a platform for developers to offer other services (such as gaming). And finally, the third project, which seems like it involves teleportation somehow, apparently, is thought to be related to Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality company that Facebook acquired.
Check out below to see what's confirmed or announced in real time.
When is Facebook's F8 keynote?
Everything kicks off at 10 am EST on 25 March. Click here to watch the keynote live.
Did Facebook turn Messenger into a platform?
Yes. Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, unveiled the Messenger Platform while on stage during Facebook's F8 keynote. According to Zuckerberg, Messenger in now an ecosystem. It can be used to create and share content, as well as enhance conversations, all without leaving the messaging app or ever having to look at/interact with the traditional Facebook News Feed.
Here's what's new: There are now more than 40 new apps that people can install and use to enhance their conversations. They allow people to use GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips, and more while messaging with friends. The app's composer is expanding as well, so people can get immediate access to these new apps. People around the world can use these apps now.
One of the coolest new Messenger apps is Giphy. It's a popular GIF search engine, and now it is integrated directly with Facebook Messenger. To learn more about Messenger Platform, visit Messenger.com/platform or Facebook's post.
What about Businesses on Messenger?
Apart from the new Messenger ecosystem, Facebook previewed Businesses on Messengers. It's also meant to enhance communications and interactions between people, or rather, businesses and brands. The idea is that you can purchase something from a site, and then use Messenger to contact companies about the purchase and ask about when it ships, etc.
"People will be able to receive relevant messages from the business," explained Facebook in a blog post, "including order confirmations and shipping status updates, and will be able to take basic actions like modifying, tracking or returning an order. People will also have the option to ask a business questions, make requests, and get quick responses."
Businesses on Messenger will initially launch with a couple of partners. To learn more, visit Messenger.com/business.
Did Facebook mention anything about Parse?
Yup. Parse is a mobile development platform that Facebook acquired a couple years ago. Not only did Facebook announce new developments related to Parse, but Parse posted a blog post. The big news is it's easier than ever for developers to use Parse to build apps for devices, such as garage door openers, smart batteries, thermostats, security cameras, and more.
Facebook introduced new software development kits for Parse, which, among other things, will let developers incorporate data from Internet-connected devices. The idea is that developers will be able to pull data from connected devices into their new apps, and all of this data and app development for connect devices will help further the Internet of Things trend.
You can read more about Parse's latest efforts here.
What's going on with that 'teleportation station'?
This one is a bit of a let down. Spoiler alert: Facebook didn't suddenly get all techie and innovative on us. It's just being funny.
While announcing Facebook user numbers (Facebook app has 1.4 billion users; Groups and WhatsApp has 700 million users each; Instagram has 300 million users/month), Facebook noted that shared content has been changing along with the growing number of users. Five years ago, people shared stuff in text form, but now they're sharing photos, and in five years it'll be videos.
Facebook said people will be sharing immersive content, like virtual reality, in 10 years. Thus, to keep up with this future, Facebook needs to build tools that enable people to share all the different kinds of content they enjoy. It demonstrated a new spherical videos feature, for instance, which are filmed with up to 24 cameras at once and will allow you to move the viewpoint to explore a location.
Facebook and the Facebook News Feed will soon support spherical videos. Facebook said it will also bring them to Oculus Rift, and it offered F8 attendees a demo of the feature in a "teleportation station" at the conference.
Is Facebook doing anything else with video?
Facebook is making it easier to take videos on its platform and embed them across the web. Facebook has long offered the ability to upload and share videos, but now it's added a way for you to grab the HTML code and then display the actual video in a new player on another site.
Previously, sharing a video hosted on Facebook was largely limited to a Facebook page or the platform itself. This new functionality should allow Facebook to directly compete with Google-owned YouTube.