New Developer Tools Unveiled At F8
Written by Lucy Black   
Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A simplified log-in process and expanded access to the Messenger platform with the ability to create bots are two major announcements from Day 1 of Facebook's Developer event, F8 currently underway in San Fransisco. Both these enhancements increase FB Messenger's scope for commercialism.


If you have created an app or website you probably appreciate the ability for people to sign in with their Facebook login credentials; it saves them having to create a new password which is often a major barrier. The new Account Kit announced at F8 is a new facility for people to sign in with their phone number or email address without the need for a password or a Facebook account.

Although this may seem counter-intuitive for Facebook, which wants to recruit new users, if it helps apps gain users, particularly in developing regions, once their services get bigger they may attract users to Facebook and they may also build more apps using Facebook technology.

Here's how Account Kit is expected to make this simpler:



Messenger, an app on iOS and Android rather than part of Facebook's web experience, claims 900+ million users and the Messenger Platform unveiled during the F8 keynote has tools to make it easier to interact with them. 



Bots for Messenger is the main feature of the Messenger Platform and are intended to provide the ability for automated conversations. A handful of Bots, including one for CNN and others selling flowers and shoes are already available, and to see how a bot could work take a look at this video that comes from Steve Greenwood, who works with Burger King, demoing a bot that will be released later this year: 



Central to the Messenger Platform is the Send and Receive API that lets you build bot experiences whereby customers and businesses can interact with one another. This is included is the latest version of the Graph API (v2.6) which also introduces the Live API. This lets you build apps and services that publish directly to Facebook Live, allowing you to go beyond mobile device cameras and bring in video from professional cameras and programmatic sources such as games or screencasts.



Other new elements of the Graph API are:


  • Reactions API to measure the total counts of all the reactions on your posts. This is a read-only API.

  • Sharing for Devices brings the power of Facebook Share Dialogs to devices like TVs, set-top boxes, digital photo frames and Internet of Things devices.


Other new tools for developers include localized technical documentation whereby the documentation for popular products is being made available in sixteen languages and a new version of the App Dashboard intended to be simpler to navigate and use making it easier for you to find information you're looking for based on the products your app has integrated with.



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