3 key takeaways from Facebook’s developer conference

3 Jun 2021

Image: © Brad Pict/Stock.adobe.com

The social network unveiled new developer tools for business messaging and augmented reality features.

“Some of the most important services in the world started when someone looked at an existing issue, and just found a better way to build.”

Those were the words of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg as he kicked off the company’s F8 developer conference yesterday (2 June).

This was its first software developer conference since 2019, due to pandemic disruptions, and the main focus of the virtual event was technology to help developers and businesses grow on Facebook’s different platforms.

Here are the main takeaways.

Business messaging

One of the key announcements was that all developers will now have access to the application program interface, or API, for messaging on Instagram.

This means businesses will be able to use automation tools in Instagram messages or integrate Instagram messaging with the likes of order management systems.

Over on WhatsApp, there are also new tools for businesses. Facebook is looking to make it easier to interact with a business’s chatbot on WhatsApp with list messages, where people can make a selection from a menu of up to 10 options, and reply buttons, where you can make a quick selection of a prewritten response.

The company also announced faster onboarding for the WhatsApp Business API, so businesses can get set up in minutes rather than weeks.

Business Apps

Facebook is building on its Business Suite, a platform launched last year to help businesses manage their Facebook, Instagram and Messenger activity in one place.

It is now adding third-party tools built by developers into this platform through a new Business Apps section. In the coming months, it plans to grow the ecosystem of apps available by inviting developers to apply for early access.

AR for all

Facebook launched its Spark AR Studio in 2017, allowing anyone to design and deploy augmented reality effects across Facebook apps and devices.

Now, it is introducing a new Multipeer API, which will allow creators to build AR effects that work for multiple users on a video call at the same time.

Effects could be designed to let people feel like they’re in the same space – an example from Facebook showed four people on a video call, all wearing virtual party hats in different locations. Or lightweight AR games could even be developed, the company said.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic