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F8 Conference: App analytics, custom push notifications, Account Kit & more

F8 conference

Facebook has released a number of APIs and updates aimed at developers, which includes a deeper analytics feature for apps and pages, updated API kit for signups, push notification campaigns, among others. These new features and updates were announced during yesterday’s F8 developer conference; some of them are also meant for general users to try out (beta). Here is a detailed list of announcements:

Deeper Insights and Analytics for apps: During last year’s F8 conference Facebook had unveiled Facebook Analytics for Apps, which is a free mobile analytics solution for apps and developers. Facebook says that over 450,000 apps have used the feature since its launch last year. This year Facebook Analytics gets a revamped addition of better ‘people insights’ that includes Page likes, education, device usage, purchase preferences, etc.

Sharing insights’ will help app and page owners understand the most popular stories shared from their website to Facebook, the aggregated demographics of the people who shared them, as well as a sentiment analysis, top quotes and other insights. ‘Breakdowns’ will let user to categorize analytical data across multiple categories including age, gender, platform, country, language, app version and more.

Customizable Push and In-App Notifications: This feature will allows app and page owners to reach customers and automate marketing campaigns with targeted push messages. In addition to the regular push notifications that can be deployed in Facebook apps currently, the new ‘in-app notifications’ provides an option to create and customize it with photos and animated GIFs. Facebook has released a set of open-sourced in-app notification customs to make push notifications more customizable and extensible.

Facebook Profile Expression Kit: Facebook says that there are more than 4.5 billion videos and nearly 30 million profile picture updates every day. So Facebook had introduced ‘profile videos’ last year, which allowed users to upload short videos as their profile pictures. The new Facebook Profile Expression Kit lets people share videos made in third-party apps including Vine, Boomerang from Instagram, MSQRD, lollicam, BeautyPlus, etc., directly into Facebook as their own profile video. Facebook mentions that it will also provide attribution to the third-party developer, every time a user uploads a profile video created by their app.

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Account Kit: This is a newly introduced social plug-in for app developers and website admins, which lets their users to sign up using their phone number or email address, and not just the usual Facebook login method. One does not even require a Facebook account for logins hosted through the Account Kit plugin. Users can login (using the plugin) without mentioning their username and password, and without sharing any information listed on their Facebook profile.

Quote sharing: Facebook has noticed that more people are sharing quotes in the form of images and GIFs. Therefore Facebook has introduced a social plug-in for publishers/bloggers using web and mobile websites to share content. Publishers will have access to a tool that lets them build a “share quote” button on their websites and apps. A user can highlight parts of text content and Facebook will paste them into a new timeline post in a block quote format, including a full preview of the original URL.

Surround 360: This is actually one of Facebook’s ambitious plan to capture the Virtual Reality space. ‘Surround 360’ is an incredible 17-lens 3D VR camera placed on a stick in a 360-degree view; and according to Facebook videos shot using this camera will require “very less post production work”. Facebook will not be selling the Surround 360 kit yet. But, it will release the hardware designs and video stitching algorithms on Github by the end of this summer. All the parts can be bought online for a whopping $30,000. Footage shot using the VR camera is stitched together using an algorithm; the raw footage exported from it can be viewed on different VR headsets.

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