Facebook F8 ads: focus on professional messaging

Facebook F8 ads: focus on professional messaging

Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during the Facebook F8 Developer Conference in San Jose, Calif., April 30, 2019.

Stephen Lam | Reuters

Facebook on Wednesday announced a number of new developer tools, including several messaging features for businesses, at its F8 software developers virtual conference.

The event marked Facebook’s first software developer conference since 2019, as the Covid pandemic forced the company to cancel last year’s event.

This year, Facebook focused on new features to help businesses communicate directly with consumers through its messaging services. This is a key goal for Facebook, which is looking to enable more e-commerce transactions directly on its services and allow businesses to manage their customer support more through Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Here are some key announcements:

Messenger API for Instagram: Facebook announced that all businesses will now have access to the application program interface (API) for messaging on Instagram. This will make it easier for businesses to automate and manage direct message communication with users. For example, companies could create automatic responses or workflows for common questions such as “What’s your return policy?” Or “Please track my order” before initiating a chat with a live representative.

These types of tools already exist for businesses to message people through WhatsApp or Messenger, but now they will also be able to create similar messaging experiences on Instagram.

WhatsApp Improvements for Business Communication: Facebook also announced a number of new tools for whatsapp. These include list messages, which allow businesses to provide consumers with a menu of up to 10 options as they communicate. The company also announced response buttons, which allow users to choose pre-written responses when communicating with businesses.

The company also announced a faster integration of its WhatsApp Business API so businesses can set up to start messaging consumers in minutes. The process took weeks.

Multi-person augmented reality: As part of its efforts to enable more augmented reality features for users, Facebook announced its Multipeer API beta program on Wednesday. This technology will allow software developers to create AR effects that work synchronously for multiple users at the same time.

So, for example, users can join a group video call through Messenger and apply an AR filter built using the Multipeer API. This filter would then apply to all participants in the video call. One protest showed four people on a video call, all wearing virtual party hats to celebrate a birthday together at different locations.

“In the long run, these foundational capabilities will underpin the content you’ll see layered on top of the AR glasses we’re building,” tweeted Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Facebook’s Hardware Manager.

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