F8 started as an 8-hour developer hackathon in 2007 (the ‘8’ got here from our conventional eight-hour hackathons).

F8 started as an 8-hour developer hackathon in 2007 (the ‘8’ came from our traditional 8-hour hackathons). Over the years we’ve added new industry tracks and launched iconic Facebook consumer products. However, as the event progressed, we heard from an increasing number of developers who wanted us to share the technical content that would help them build, innovate and grow on our platforms.

This year, after a short programming break in 2020, we’re bringing F8 back to its roots as a real developer conference. As we look to the future, it is helpful to measure the progress we have made towards our ultimate goal of helping developers find innovative solutions for connecting people. Because of this, today’s announcements focus on Facebook technologies that are opening up new opportunities for developers and businesses around the world to build and grow on our platforms.

Business messaging and tools

Our vision is that messaging is the single most important way people and businesses communicate. It’s as convenient, unobtrusive, and personalized as possible, with the same familiar apps and features used to communicate with family and friends today.

Our first step towards this vision was announced at F8 in 2016 – when we introduced the messenger platform as open APIs.

The wait is over: The Messenger API for Instagram is available to all developers

Instagram isn’t just a cultural and social hub – it’s a place where people discover brands and connect with them. 90% of the people on Instagram today follow at least one company, and messaging is a big part of that. Whether it’s story replies, direct messages, or mentions, interacting with brands is becoming increasingly attractive to customers and important to businesses.

Today we’re excited to open the Messenger API for Instagram to all developers so brands can deliver messaging experiences on Instagram. With these new features, businesses can incorporate Instagram messaging into their preferred applications and workflows. This can lead to more meaningful conversations that increase customer satisfaction and increase sales.

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Connect with customers quickly and easily using the WhatsApp Business API

Every day, more than 175 million people send a message to a WhatsApp Business account to discuss products and get customer support. As more and more people turn to WhatsApp to get in touch with companies, we’re announcing new updates that will make it easier for companies to get started using the WhatsApp Business API and easily chat with these companies:

  • Faster onboarding: We have reduced the time it takes companies to get started with the WhatsApp Business API by reducing the onboarding process from weeks to just five minutes.
  • Get More Info From Businesses: People are interested in getting additional information on WhatsApp such as: We’re improving the way companies can communicate with their customers as more and more companies use WhatsApp. We’ll be supporting more types of messages – for example, to let people know when an item is back in stock.
  • New Messaging Capabilities: We’re introducing new messaging capabilities so people can respond to businesses in new ways to get business done faster. These features include list messages that people can use to reply without typing and reply buttons that people can use to make selections with a quick tap.

Login Connect with Messenger – maintaining deeper customer relationships through Facebook login and messaging

Facebook Login provides a convenient way for our billions of users worldwide to log into corporate apps and websites. With Login Connect with Messenger, customers can now send messages to companies directly via the Facebook login flow.

Among the test participants who activated Login Connect, more than 70% of users have chosen messaging so far. With this important source of new customer conversations, companies can deepen their interactions with people through messaging by providing more personalized and efficient customer care. This feature is currently in closed beta and will be generally available in the coming months.

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Facebook Business Extension – a developer platform for the business apps you create

Last year we launched the Facebook Business Suite – an all-in-one platform for companies to manage their activities on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger with our first-party tools.

Now we’re introducing business apps. We’ll be adding third-party tools – developed by developers like you – to the Facebook Business Suite. We believe the tools you develop are fundamental to business success and we love to help you integrate and scale your offerings by making them available to millions of businesses.

In order to integrate and present your business apps in the Facebook Business Suite, we offer a developer platform called Facebook Business Extension. It is the solution for developers and companies that makes integration with the Facebook Business Suite easy. In the coming months, we’ll be expanding the app ecosystem by inviting our developer community to apply for Early Access.

Creator tools

Spark AR – Empowering a global community of AR developers

At F8 2017, we introduced Spark AR Studio, our flagship AR creation software that allows anyone to design and deploy AR effects across Facebook apps and devices.

Spark AR is the largest mobile AR platform in the world – more than 600,000 YouTubers from 190 countries have published over 2 million AR effects on Facebook and Instagram.

In the past few years, the Spark team has added new features that expand the accuracy of what is possible in mobile AR, including updates to target tracking and segmentation.

Today, at the F8 Refresh, Spark AR continues to work on its bigger vision that brings our digital and physical worlds closer together, and previewed its new Multipeer API. For the first time ever, developers can create effects that provide a coordinated experience for multiple call participants. Effects could, for example, be designed in such a way that they convey a common sense of space, such as a meeting point in space or around a campfire, or even support light gameplay. This new long-form feature opens up exciting new possibilities for creatives and developers to create AR experiences for video calls on Messenger, Instagram and Portal.

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The Spark AR team highlighted several new use cases for AR effects on video calls, ranging from light games to festive moments. If you’d like to get involved, Spark AR is now accepting applications for its AR video calling beta.

Technology tools

PyTorch – our AI framework of choice

PyTorch is an open source machine learning framework that accelerates the journey from research prototyping to production deployment. Developed in 2016 by Facebook AI researchers in collaboration with many other AI executives, the platform follows a philosophy of openness and collaborative research to advance cutting-edge AI.

Before this framework was adopted, the path to taking AI development from research to production historically involved multiple steps and fragmented tools with poor interoperability. PyTorch helped fill those gaps, and today we’re helping build a PyTorch ecosystem to completely streamline the end-to-end experience for developers and researchers.

In fact, today we announce that we are making PyTorch the standard framework for building all of our AI and machine learning models. Not only does PyTorch make our research and development work more effective, collaborative, and efficient, it also enables us to share our work as open source PyTorch libraries and learn from the advances made by thousands of PyTorch developers around the world.

Whether you are a new developer or a seasoned AI pro, there is something for everyone on PyTorch and getting started with the framework is easier than ever.

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Invest in the future

Every year during F8, it is our tradition to donate money to an organization that is committed to diversifying the technology industry. This year we’re donating $ 250,000 to Girls in Tech, a global nonprofit focused on diversity, equality, and inclusion by using skills-building and job-finding resources for women with a passion for technology to help Accelerate growth.

In case you missed it, you can watch the keynote and sessions of F8 Refresh if necessary and catch up on our greatest moments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag # F8Refresh.

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