Facebook F8 Preview: Mobility, Messenger And More

Expect announcements related to mobility and Messenger as Facebook continues its crusade to become the cross-platform platform.
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New development tools and monetization options for mobile apps are among the offerings expected at Facebook's F8 developer conference, which begins on Wednesday in San Francisco.

In a research note, Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research, predicted that Facebook will add's speech recognition technology as Parse API. This will allow developers who integrate the Parse backend service to create their own voice-enabled mobile apps.

Chowdhry said he expects Facebook will introduce mobile development tools based on several open source frameworks – Flow, Flux, and React – to simplify the creation of mobile apps. And he foresees further social graph enhancements to improve the user experience on mobile devices.

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Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are likely to get speech-to-text capabilities, Chowdhry said. And he anticipates new mobile-oriented advertising offerings based on the company's June 2014 acquisition of video ad firm LiveRail.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook intends to turn Messenger into a platform that allows third parties to integrate messaging capabilities into their own apps.

The New York Times on Tuesday said that Facebook is negotiating with publishers, including BuzzFeed, National Geographic, and the Times itself, to host the publishers' content within Facebook. The cost to publishers would come in the form of traffic going to Facebook instead of their own websites, and loss of access to direct visitor data. However, Facebook reaches about 900 million people daily and has data, revenue, user experience, and infrastructure to offer in return. It's unclear whether any such partnerships will be announced at F8.

F8 2015 is likely to be a continuation of themes introduced last year. At F8 2014, Facebook shifted its focus from deals with high-profile partners, such as Zynga, to regaining the trust of the broader developer community. It abandoned its "move fast and break things" mandate and announced a two-year stability guarantee for core APIs, API versioning, and an SLA, to reassure developers that it wants to be a reliable partner.

Last year, Facebook also launched App Links, an open source framework for creating links that open apps, rather than websites, in a browser. It's similar to what's known as a custom URL scheme. Facebook made analytics support available to App Links in August 2014, to give developers more insight into how their apps are being used. At the time, Facebook said more than 3 billion URLs had been integrated with App Links. But neither Apple nor Google have embraced the framework, as each prefers its own solution -- Android app indexing and iOS 8 extensions, respectively.

"Our goal with Facebook is to build the cross-platform platform," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at F8 last year. It's a goal that remains a work in progress, because other major platform companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, prefer control over cross-platform compatibility, just as Facebook keeps a tight leash on its social graph.

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