Held in Fort Mason, San Francisco every year, Facebook’s F8 conference features new products as well as an insight into the world’s largest social network. Taking place annually, this year’s conference was spread over the 12th and 13th of April and today we’re giving you a rundown of the biggest updates from the conference.

Messenger platform introduces chatbots

With 900 million Facebook Messenger users worldwide of which 72% purchase products online we knew it was only a matter of time before Messenger introduced chatbots or something similar allowing users to interact with businesses. In what is arguably the biggest announcement of the conference, Facebook will now allow businesses to deliver automated support, ecommerce support and interactive experiences through chatbots. At the moment, many of us contact businesses using messenger if we have a problem, query or want a direct response before making a purchase and Facebook’s David Marcus said this update will make the messenger platform even more exciting.

Facebook F8 Conference 2016

To date there are 50 million companies operating on Facebook and with over 1 billion business messages sent every month, Facebook made the smart decision to continue with chatbots in the Messenger app.

We think you should be able to message a business like you would a friend.

Mark Zuckerberg

Featuring prominent user controls at the top of every message thread, this allows the user to block any messages or conversations they don’t want to engage with, ensuring all users are in control of the messaging experience. Using the send and receive API, developers are now able to build bots for the messenger platform and all bots will keep user identity, sent and received text, images, buttons and calls to action.

In order to build a great experience, you need a combination of UI and conversation. We think the combination of UI and conversation is what is going to work.”

David Marcus, Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook.

Sponsored Messenger Ads

In addition, Facebook has started to allow sponsored messages ads allowing businesses to send re-engagement messages to users who have sent messages to them in the past.

Facebook F8 Conference

Facebook Live is developer ready

For all the developers out there who want to plug into Facebook Live, your time has come. At this year’s conference, Facebook released an API to take video to a whole new level and announced partnerships with BuzzFeed, Vidpresso and Livestream. Mark Zuckerberg said ‘we are at the beginning of the golden age of live video’ and unveiling their Live API at the F8 conference, hardware manufacturers can now integrate with Facebook Live.

Rights Manager

Whilst we’re on the topic of video, Facebook is growing into an online powerhouse for video and with this comes sharing and copying of material. At the conference Facebook also unveiled the Rights Manager - a tool which allows users and businesses to upload a reference library of their content to manage violations effectively.. When a content library is uploaded, Facebook with monitor for copies and will either delete it or notify the original publisher that their content has been copied. So, rest assured your content will be kept safe.

Instant Articles are available to all publishers

Until the 12th of April this year, instant articles were only available to a select number of publishers however as of the 13th, Facebook has opened it up to all. Similar to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) as we discussed in an earlier blog, these pages are made up of stripped back HTML5 designed to load faster on mobile and enhance the user experience. Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, videos and photos which matter most to them and instant articles aim to make this easier. Since launching they have seen 30% more shares, users are 70% less likely to abandon them and after reading instant articles, 20% are more likely to read more instant articles illustrating why Facebook decided to open it up to all publishers.

Want to know more about Instant Articles? Find out here.

Automatically tag friends in videos thanks to better AI and face recognition

Making huge strides with it’s AI systems, Facebook will soon take it’s image recognition into video and you will soon be able to tag your friends in videos.

Extra: if you have a spare 3 minutes or so, check out this video about Paul Zuckerberg - the guy at Facebook that suggests tags for all our photos.

With a number of updates unveiled at the Facebook F8 conference we have rounded up a few of the most relevant ones but you can read all about these and more updates over on the Facebook F8 conference website.