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Facebook announces new tools to improve business experience on its platforms

Facebook on Wednesday announced a slate of new tools to improve the experience for businesses using its platforms in the virtually held F8 developer conference. Placing emphasis on messaging tools, the social media giant stated that its “vision is for messaging to be the primary way people and businesses communicate.”

Messenger API for Instagram

After launching the Messenger Platform as open application programming interface (API) in 2016, Facebook has now decided to open up the Messenger API for Instagram to all developers. Brands will now be able to provide automated replies to frequently asked questions and improve their messaging experience with prospective customers by integrating Instagram messaging with their existing applications and workflow.

“90% of people on Instagram today follow at least one business, and messaging is a key reason why. Whether it’s story replies, direct messages, or mentions, engaging with brands is increasingly appealing for customers and important for businesses.” – Facebook

Improving the WhatsApp Business API experience

WhatsApp now offers a faster onboarding experience for any business that wants to get started with the WhatsApp Business API. The company claims that the onboarding process will now just take five minutes rather than weeks, as it did before.

WhatsApp will also begin allowing support for more types of messages. For example, letting people know when an item is back in stock. Furthermore, new messaging features are being rolled out to help customers respond to businesses quicker. For example, customers will now be shown a list of messages or reply buttons that they can use to respond to a chatbot message with a single tap.

Opt for messaging with businesses from the Facebook Login flow

Facebook has long allowed businesses to use Facebook Login to allow people to log in to apps and websites, but now businesses can also request customers to opt into messaging with the business on Facebook Messenger using a new feature called Login Connect with Messenger. This feature will be available in the Facebook Login flow and will provide businesses with a new source for customer conversations. This feature, however, is currently in closed beta.

“Among test participants who enabled Login Connect, we’ve so far seen more than 70% of users opt in to messaging. With this vital source of new customer conversations, businesses can deepen their engagement with people through messaging by offering more personalized and efficient customer care.” – Facebook

Third-party apps for Facebook Business Suite

Facebook allows businesses to manage their activities across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger on the Facebook Business Suite platform. But this platform was constrained to tools and features built by Facebook. Now, the company is opening up the platform to third-party developers, allowing them to build Business Apps. These apps will be made available to businesses through a developer platform called Facebook Business Extension and will provide businesses with a whole new world of tools to improve their business experience across Facebook products.

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Other important announcements

New API for Spark AR to bring digital and physical worlds closer: Facebook has launched a new tool called Multipeer API for Spark AR Studio, the company’s AR creation software that lets creators design and deploy AR effects across Facebook products. Multipeer will allow creators to further bring the digital and physical worlds closer. “For the first time, creators will be able to build effects that deliver a coordinated experience across multiple call participants. For example, effects could be designed to deliver a shared sense of space, like a hangout in space or around a campfire, or even support lightweight gameplay,” Facebook said.

Streamlining the end-to-end developer experience with PyTorch: Facebook announced that PyTorch, an open-source machine learning framework that Facebook co-created, will be the default framework for building all of its AI and machine learning models. This is expected to not only make “research and engineering work more effective, collaborative, and efficient” but will also allow Facebook to share its work as open-source PyTorch libraries, and learn from the work done by other PyTorch developers all over the world.

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