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What to expect at Facebook's F8 developer conference: More live video and more bots

Facebook's two-day developer conference is Tuesday and Wednesday in San Francisco.


Live video has been top priority for Facebook in the past two months. It wants live video to take off, which is why it’s paying media organizations and celebrities to use the product, bumping live video up in people’s News Feeds to increase viewership, and overhauling its app to encourage more live video creation and consumption.

Facebook isn’t done talking about live, either: It’s going to come up again this week at its annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco.

F8 is the event where Facebook rolls out new products for people who either build their business on Facebook (businesses on Messenger) or use Facebook tools to make money for their apps. This year, we expect Facebook will focus on two big themes: Live video and Messenger, the company’s standalone messaging app with more than 900 million active users.

On the live video front, Facebook plans to roll out new tools to encourage video creators to broadcast more high-quality video. “Going live” on Facebook currently means shooting video on a smartphone, but if Facebook wants to entice major media organizations to use the product, they’ll need to be able to accommodate TV-like production value. F8 would be a good place to start that conversation.

Facebook is also expected to launch tools to help developers easily build chatbots into its messaging app, Messenger. At last year’s F8, Facebook launched a Messenger platform alongside a few retail partners. The idea was that users could chat back and forth with a retailer to track or change a product order (among other things). Since then it has added more partners, including Uber and Lyft to help people arrange a ride through the app.

Chatbots are in that same vein: Software programs intended to automate user conversations with brands and retailers. So you could chat with a local restaurant to arrange a reservation, for example, without ever speaking with another human. The point of all this is to get people using Messenger to interact more with businesses. That can only happen, of course, if businesses can build these chatbots inside of Messenger.

As in years past, expect Facebook to make some announcements for app developers, too. Facebook already has a bunch of products that let developers do things like sell ad space inside their app, or let users login to their app with their Facebook account.

If Facebook is selling developer ad space — and knows who it’s targeting thanks to its login feature — it can offer the same kind of personalized ads off Facebook that it does on Facebook. And that means a lot more potential revenue. So these tools matter to Facebook, and you can bet the company will revisit them again this year.

Additional reporting by Peter Kafka.

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