F8 2018: Roundup of Facebook’s developer conference

The first day of Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference has concluded and we’ve rounded up all the most notable announcements from the gathering in San Jose, California.

This year’s show is the first since the world’s largest social network came under fire for allowing Cambridge Analytica and other companies unprecedented access to user data, which may have been used to influence democratic decisions.

In the wake of the fallout, Facebook made changes to its platform to better protect its users’ information. The improvements, it claims, are based on a few guiding principles:

  • Building APIs that create value. This means that if we're not certain an API will create value for people using your application, then we won't build it.

  • Give transparency and control. People should be in full control over how they share their information with developers. In 2014, we made significant changes to give people granular controls over the permissions and information they chose to share, and our expectation is that this is reflected in your product experience too.

  • Focus on building trust with the people that use our products. One goal is to ensure that bad actors do not ruin things for the overwhelming majority of you who are building good experiences. Our plan is to closely evaluate all application submissions with a heightened level of expectations.

While these changes were being implemented, Facebook closed off its app review process which verified apps wanting access to data beyond basic profile information.

Today, Facebook has re-opened app reviews with a new requirement of business verification for apps requiring access to specialised apps or extended login permissions.

Here are some of the other main changes announced today at F8:

  • AR Camera Experiences for Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook Lite: Brands will be able to integrate AR on the Messenger Platform, creators will be able to build AR experiences for their followers on Instagram, and Facebook is adding a new distribution surface with Facebook Lite.

  • New Ways to Share Stories: People already upload screenshots from other apps to share their interests, and now Facebook is making that experience faster and easier. Users can share what they’re listening to on Spotify to Instagram Stories, for example.

  • Graph API 3.0: Facebook is launching the new Graph API 3.0 that updates the types of Place IDs in the Places Graph endpoints.

  • Facebook Login: Facebook has updated its Facebook Login to restrict access to data, improve how the token experience is handled, enable developers to receive requests from people to delete their data, and introduce a new section in Apps Settings for business integrations.

A dedicated Facebook Business Solutions SDK has also been launched to help enterprises grow their business with tools specific to their needs. The SDK includes the Business Manager API, Marketing API, Instagram API, and Pages API.

AR Studio, which was launched during last year’s F8 conference, has been updated with new capabilities — the most notable of which is the new visual programming feature. Now it’s possible to drag-and-drop custom animations, interactions, and logic into your scene without writing a line of JavaScript.

Here is the changelog for AR Studio:

  • Tracking: Use AR Target Tracker, Body Tracking, Hand Tracking, High-Fidelity Face Tracking, and more to follow movement and tie it to your experience

  • Patch Editor: Control audio, manipulate materials, add interactions, and even create your own shaders without writing a single line of code

  • Free-to-use assets: Add ready-made sound files from Facebook’s free library and 3D models through our partnership with Sketchfab

  • Background Segmentation: Separate people from their background, create experiences that transport people to different places

  • Location AR: Tie your AR effects to places in the real world, making pre-determined experiences available when people get to a certain location

  • Semantic Scene Understanding: Create experiences that are contextually aware, like having heat waves rise up when a coffee cup is recognized in the scene

  • Analytics for AR effects published by Facebook Pages (coming soon): Track the reach and engagement of your Page's published AR experience by measuring impressions, captures, and shares

  • 3D Posts in Camera: Take a 3D post from News Feed and experience it in your world with Facebook Camera on your mobile device

Game developers haven’t been left out either. Support for In-App Purchases (IAP) has been added to Facebook’s Instant Games platform for games on Android and the web. The submission process will be opened May 7th.

Tying all of Facebook’s announcements together is a revamped developer site to connect and learn about the company’s offerings.

While there’s little groundbreaking here, Facebook has announced many updates — along with some new products — that will be welcome to many developers. Perhaps most pleasing, however, is that privacy appears to finally be among its priorities.

What are your thoughts on Facebook’s announcements? Let us know in the comments.

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