7 Key Things Facebook Announced at f8 Last Week

Mark Zuckerberg

Breaking past from its old mantra “Move Fast and Break Things”, Marc Zuckerberg has announced the platform’s new motto, “Move Fast with Stable Infra”.

The platform has more than a billion users and has been growing still. Given the great strides it has taken in the past, the newer Facebook may be concerned with more stability, more focus on developers and with an eye on mobilisation (which accounts for the platforms 59% revenue as of the moment).

The 2011 f8 conference put the spotlight on the Facebook’s “timeline” and the broader version of the “Open Graph”. This year’s event put the focus on developers, new products and newer initiatives which Mark Zuckerberg have emphasised to be in lined with its new motto. f8 is Facebook’s erratically scheduled conference intended for developers and entrepreneurs held in San Francisco, California. In the f8 last week (last f8 was in 2011), it has been announced that the conference will now be done annually.

Build, Grow and Monetize

Before looking at Facebook’s current and future plans, it is first best to understand the niche goals and stratagem of the platform as outlined by Zuckerberg himself.

Zuckerberg having spoken in the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 has pointed out the three pillars of the Facebook’s platform strategy which are “Build, Grow and Monetize”. The Build part, mostly, is eyeing developers to create more apps within the embrace of the platform (It’s acquiesce of Parse, is the signal). The Grow focused on business scaling of the developer’s apps while using the Facebook platform to be a paid gateway for the app discovery. The Monetize part put focus on Facebook as a form of payment alternative and a niche of ads.

This stratagem has been the latch to which the recent F8 conference has been based on.

The 7 Key Things

Judging by the applauds and the cheers in the last F8 conference, the F8 last week has been a success based on audience response. The individual announcements have marked the platform’s goals and far more profound look into the future of social media. So here are the key things mentioned in the conference:

1. Logging in Anonymously to Test New Apps

(and more user control through granular permission for apps)

Facebook now will be giving a tightened functionality which may allow far private access to apps and the selection of data that one can share once the app asked permission. These granular permissions will be enabled and will be toggled line by line with users having the option to elect which data to share, which data to withhold.

In addition to this, users can now login into these apps anonymously. Neither name nor data will be sent to third party developers before you get to access the app. A good “try-before-you-buy” ruse. These currently will be tested on with few developers (Flipboard is included in the current seven apps who’ll get the beta test) and will open to more developers in the coming months. While the granular permissions will take time restructuring which gives developers the time to switch over to this new permission page next year.

“You can always sign in with your own identity once you’re more comfortable with the app,” Zuckerberg said. This, according to Zuckerberg will be giving more power and control to the users, whilst they’re going to trust all the apps to build more and over time, use them more.

Chief executive of the social login vendor Gigya Patrick Salyer said that the changes in the Facebook regarding the Facebook anonymous apps login marked a major milestone for trust and transparency between brands and consumers, as quoted from Telegraph UK.

Steven Levy’s interview with Zuckerberg on Wired though sought to clarify what this new point hits; it’s not anonymity from Facebook, rather with Facebook.

2. Facebook Audience Network

Decidedly, Facebook settled on Audience Network as a mobile ad network after some haggling and experimenting since January. Deb Liu, Facebook’s Product management Director made the official announcement in f8.

Since the platform’s 59% revenue has been coming from mobile, this Facebook move which aims to encourage and pull developers into mobile transition has been timely and yes, smart.

The Audience Network will make it easier for the advertisers to target the right apps. This entails developers to make money without selling their own ads. Other points of the mobile ad network are: it can do its own targeting, it can enable measurements and can even route payments.

Although the developers will have the option to integrate code to run audience network in the banner ads, these will allow still native ad units which are more natural to the audience and the app users. The ads may come in three formats which are the standard IAB banners, the standard IAB interstitials and the native ad units.

To help the transition better and to protect app users, the policies for the Audience Network have been outlined by Facebook found in this link. Several of the policies noted include the showing of one ad at a time in a screen and the ads disguising to score accidental clicks are also prohibited.

As quoted, Facebook said that the “The Audience Network is starting with advertisers looking to drive app installs or app engagement”. They expect the performance increase as more ads, apps and publishers come to their system.

And, maybe, this will entail fewer ads in the timeline.

3. Mobile Like Button for Third Party Apps

Mobile like buttons will be strewn all over mobile apps in the incoming months as the like buttons will come embedded in apps so users can share content back to their timeline, make it available to their friends. This will enable monetization and let developers have the chance to grow their apps and audience user.

This news has been delivered in f8 by Ime Archibong, the Facebook’s Director on Strategic Partnerships. Developers have already been given tools to add the like buttons although it is still in preview mode for developers. More detailed information for this is available at Facebook Developer.

4. Introduction of App Links and Local Datastore for Offline App Use

Applinks is a mobile app that aims to make it easier to use links that switch between apps and the web. Applinks is based on Parse which has been bought by Facebook back in 2013. The perfect example of this feature is the users will be able to click a link in an email, lead it to the right app to open the file automatically but will revert back to the email once when one is done.

This feature has already been found in Android and iOS, but Facebook aimed to make this uniform across platforms, mobile, tablet and PC’s. Applinks has been offered as open-source initiative which will make it easier for integration between third party apps and native Facebook apps.

Applinks Product Manager Vijay Shankar spoke of the turn of events as a goal to build something simple, cross platform yet will be addressing the deep linking purpose and make the app linking process seamless.

“This should be open source, and this is something that any two apps should be able to do”, Vijay Shankar added. You can find the interview transcript of Shankar in the Next Web’s article Inside App Links, Facebook’s open source effort to make mobile apps more like the Web.

For the offline Datastore, Parse has updated its analytic product as announced in the f8. This will give way to the deeper insights for the developers’ audience and user retention. Offline storage will aim to help developers store app data on devices locally. This will enable running even when there is no connection .

5. New API for Media Organisations

For the media organisations, Facebook also announced something; it will be posting 4 new API’s. These API’s includes the Trending, Topic Insights, Topic Feed and the Hashtag Counter. These have been part of the platform’s Public Content Solutions.

These API’s will allow media, print and televised, to visualise the buzz on the platform. Demographic info, hashtag counts and mentioned posts will be taken in consideration. This, Facebook hopes, will steer away the real time news and content from its rival Twitter and turn to Facebook instead.

6. FbStart for App Developers

FbStart program has been open sourced to developers for access to free tools and services. This will help developers test their apps through two tracks, Bootstrap and the Accelerate. The former may beget developers up to $5000 while the latter may give developers up to $30,000 free dev services from Facebook itself or together with all other third party companies which will test for bugs and provide A/B spotting.

Bootstrap is for developers who are just starting out while the Accelerate track is for the developers who have a current app to be taken in for scaling. Facebook has in mind the hopes that these apps may grow big enough and will finally offset the $30,000 given with the ads to be generated by the successful app.

7. Core API’s Two Year Stability Guarantee

As with its new mantra, Move Fast With Stable Infra, Facebook promises not to scrap any core API without notice, two years the least. These will give more stability to developers, willing them to build more, since there will be no hasty pulling of API’s just like in the past. So everybody will expect no rushed decisions unless it’s thoroughly studied.

The API stability will include Login, Sharing, SDK’s and Requests. Banking on stability, Zuckerberg said that the older motto in breaking things no longer apply (it applied only to start ups and when Facebook is still a small company) since fixing things has taken them longer. With this, Zuckerberg has promised the fixing of bugs in the next 48 hours within his keynote speech in the f8.

Additional Thoughts

The things listed in the f8 conference surely have endeared Facebook to more developers. Stability, newer functionality, mobile and market focused, developer support, bug fixes and privacy addressing are certainly signs that Facebook is indeed growing.

“Facebook Inc. is maturing. Like major technology companies that have come before it, it understands the importance of developing a partner ecosystem, and is now in the process of nurturing it,” Wall Street Journal’s Michael Hickins said.

Image credit: Business Insider.

Roelen Fernandez

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues and crime books.

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