Mark Zuckerberg likes to use F8, Facebook's annual developer conference, to break news about his company. This year's big news is that it's not about Facebook anymore. 

When Zuckerberg took the stage Wednesday morning, it was for a keynote that focused on somewhat lesser-used but increasingly popular services like WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. "Facebook used to be this single blue app that did a lot different things. Now Facebook is a family of apps," he said. 

In the biggest announcement, Zuckerberg introduced Messenger Platform, which is meant to allow developers to easily create apps that integrate with Messenger.  Started as a feature within Facebook before spinning off into its own standalone app, Messenger has six hundred million users every month.

David Marcus, Facebook vice president of messaging products, demonstrated how existing apps created by initial content partners like ESPN, JibJab and Gif Cam can be used to embed features like GIFs, photos, videos and audio clips into Messenger communications.

Marcus -- who left a job running PayPal to join Facebook -- also previewed Businesses on Messenger, which Facebook says it hopes will serve as a communications tool for businesses and customers. For example, after Messenger users purchases an item online, they can opt to receive updates about their order -- like confirmation and shipping information -- and can message the business with questions through a thread in Messenger.

Zuckerberg called these new efforts to work with the developer community "the biggest shift that we've made in our strategy of helping to connect people in many years."

He also discussed new developments in video, which he believes will be the future of content sharing. 

"If you look back at Facebook five years ago, most of the content that people shared was text -- status updates and wall posts. Now today it's photos and other visual content. If you fast forward five years, it's going to be video," he said.

But beyond five years, Zuckerberg sees a place for sharing even virtual and augmented reality experiences. He said Facebook will start supporting "spherical videos" -- ones that are filmed with up to dozens of cameras and appear 3D.  It's easy to envision how those videos would be experienced through Oculus Rift; Facebook bought the 3D headset maker a year ago. 

At the conference, Facebook previewed this feature with spherical views of its headquarters in Menlo Park. This is the "teleportation station," which a news leak, that had many scratching their heads, had alluded to before the event.

Just before the F8, the conference's app prematurely sent out a notification that revealed three new projects: "Parse for IoT, Messenger as a Platform, and the Teleportation Station." Indeed, all three were revealed. 

Published on: Mar 25, 2015