F8 app hints at key Facebook plans

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Facebook’s companion app for its developers’ conference may have revealed key updates early, after a notification was accidentally sent to some users.

The social media site is set reveal more about how it plans to use virtual reality in the future, as well as other updates, when it hosts the two-day F8 conference, which begins in California today.

But some users have reported seeing a notification appear in the official F8 app that read: “Just revealed: Parse for IoT, Messenger as a Platform, and the Teleportation Station”.

For now it is unclear what the announcements refer to, but Parse is the name of the tool used by developers to add their content to Facebook, while IoT is the abbreviation for “internet of things”, the idea that smart devices can all be connected together.

Teleportation Station is not an existing Facebook product, and could refer to how the social network is planning to use virtual reality.

The social network purchased virtual reality firm Oculus last year, but it is yet to announce any major projects utilising the technology. Oculus is currently partnering with Samsung on the Korean firm’s own virtual reality headset – Gear VR.

Co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will deliver a keynote speech at the show in San Francisco, and is likely to offer news on what the next few months look like for a site with more than a billion users.

The company he co-founded has made some eye-catching acquisitions in the last year or so, and more word on what to expect from them is hotly anticipated by developers.

This is likely to revolve around Oculus. The purchase of the virtual reality firm last summer came as a surprise, and so far there has been little news of developments. Facebook users and developers will be keen to hear if an official Facebook app is coming to Oculus any time soon, or if there are other projects in the pipeline.

Another key area of discussion is likely to be Facebook At Work. This is something that is already being piloted by volunteer companies ahead of a potential full rollout in the future. Essentially it is an acceptable side to Facebook for the office – so less Grumpy Cat memes and more a private network for colleagues to communicate and collaborate on projects.

A launch date for the service could be announced, as well as greater explanation of how it will work within business.

Just last week, Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, announced that tt would begin allowing Messenger app users to transfer money via the instant messaging service on mobile and on desktop.

This service is limited to the US for the moment and is only just starting to become available, but it is likely to be discussed in greater detail at F8, including details of release in more countries.

During the two-day event there are also several sessions that are focused on the Facebook newsfeed – a big area of interest for the company.

This is in part because the social network is aware that in terms of real-time news Twitter is regarded by many as more of a go-to source. Yet Facebook has more than four times the number of users – 1.3 billion to Twitter’s 284 million.

Facebook is placing a greater focus on this, having introduced “Trending” to the user home pages, and it is likely attendees at the conference will hear more on this matter.

Facebook is also currently actively encouraging news sources to push more content to the site, and use it as a social news source. Mr Zuckerberg has in the past described the site as each user’s personal newspaper – telling of birthdays, weddings, graduations – and now he wants this to apply to wider news as well.

There is even a session at F8 called News Publishing On Facebook, so developers should get some more insight.

The final session of the first day is dedicated to discussing WhatsApp Messenger and Instagram, both Facebook-owned services and both currently with active user numbers higher than Twitter. So these are two potent and powerful services that the social network is wielding.

A new Instagram app – Layout – was released on Monday. Will there be more to come? Will WhatsApp start to support mobile payments, like Messenger?

Hopefully Mr Zuckerberg will have some answers.

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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