Facebook introduced several new tools for developers and publishers at its F8 global developers’ conference in San Francisco this weekend.
Account Kit gives developers a way to allow users to login to their applications with their phone numbers or email addresses and to register for their apps without creating passwords, making the process simpler for users and hopefully boosting engagement for developers.
Features for developers include a customizable user interface, access to rich and aggregated analytics and the option for users to receive Facebook notifications to complete the login process, as an alternative to text messages.
Software development engineer Olga Kuznetsova wrote in a blog post:
Most people find remembering passwords difficult, so Account Kit gives people the option to log into new apps with just a few taps using only their phone number or email address. There’s no need for a user name and password. People can use Account Kit without sharing any information from their Facebook profile—they don’t even need a Facebook account to use it. By removing these major barriers to entry, Account Kit helps you increase your sign-ups and expand your audience.
Account Kit is simple and quick to implement for both new and established apps, so you can focus on building your core product instead of creating a login system and handling password storage. Account Kit is built on Facebook’s infrastructure—as technology, systems and devices change, we’ll update Account Kit to help keep your app’s on-boarding flow current. We support SMS login for over 230 countries and regions, in more than 40 languages. Your app can use Account Kit to send up to 100,000 confirmation SMS per month at no charge to you.
Cross-posted videos and total performance insights
Facebook introduced several new ways for videos to be cross-posted on pages owned by the same Business Manager, as well as insights for those videos.
First, page owners can now give other pages in their Business Manager permission to reuse a video. This option appears on the new “Permissions” tab in the video upload or edit window. Clicking that tab and flipping on the “Allow” switch gives other pages in the Business Manager permission to reuse that video.
Once permission to reuse a video has been granted, any page in that same Business Manager can create new posts with the video without having to re-upload it.
If a video has been cross-posted, page owners of the page that initially uploaded the video will be able to see metrics for each post in which the video has been reused, as well as aggregate metrics for the video across all those posts.
Page admins who reuse another page’s video will only see metrics for the posts they created, as well as a “Total Performance” line that helps them compare metrics on their posts to the video’s totals.
Publisher tools for 360-degree videos
In addition to the Facebook Surround 360 camera system the social network introduced at F8, it also announced an improved user interface, a heading indicator and a heat map for publishers.
First, we’re improving the user interface for people when they see 360 video on Facebook. Now, when people discover a 360 video in News Feed, a new gyroscope animation tells them that the content is different. Moreover, a helper animation prompts people to move their phone if they don’t tap the video or move their device within four seconds. This improved UI lets publishers concentrate on creating compelling videos without needing to add instructional text.
Second, we’re adding a heading indicator that shows the viewer the current direction of view relative to the video’s initial orientation, as well as the current zoom level. Tapping the heading indicator resets both the direction of view and the zoom level back to their initial values, which publishers can set in the upload tool. The heading indicator fades discreetly when not in use, still showing the current heading.
The new gyroscope animation (left) and helper animation (right) will improve discovery and user experience for Facebook 360.
Third, we’re adding tools to help publishers understand which parts of their 360 video viewers find most compelling. Our new heat map, coming soon to the insights view in page insights and Video Library, will show publishers which parts of the 360 view audiences are watching most.
New ways to share and engage
Software engineer Ming Li described the new tools in this area in a blog post.
- Quote sharing: This tool allows developers to build an experience that lets users share specific quotes from books or articles, or “any text that resonates with them.”
- Hashtag sharing: Developers can include a suggested, removable hashtag in the composer where users share from their apps.
- Optimized mobile web share dialog: Rather than opening a new tab when users clicked Facebook’s share button on mobile sites, this action can now be completed in an iframe.
- Save button: Facebook’s Save feature is now available on sites outside of Facebook.
- Better embedded content: Embedded posts have been revamped with more (and cleaner) design options, allowing developers to choose type and size. Facebook also launched embedded comments, allowing developers to embed public comments from Facebook on their websites.
- Sharing for Devices API: Facebook’s share dialog can now be used by devices such as television sets, set-top boxes, digital photo frames and other Internet of Things creations.
- Improved moderation tool for comments: New spam-fighting features include a new flagged queue, a new function that automatically closes comments after a certain date and partial word matching in the blacklist, and the social network is also opening up its comments mirroring feature.
- Sharing insights: Anonymous, aggregated information about the number of users discussing a link, the most popular quotes being shared from it and other data.
- Sharing debugger: Improvements have made it easier for developers and publishers to view and manage their links shared across Facebook.
Analytics for Apps updates
People insights: It’s a new section that provides rich, aggregated and anonymized demographic information for the people using your app without requiring you to implement Facebook Login. With more than 1.5 billion people on Facebook, you’ll be able to see powerful audience insights that you can’t get anywhere else, including page likes, education, device usage, purchase preferences and much more.
Push and in-app notifications (beta): These help you reach your customers and automate your marketing campaigns with targeted messages. In addition to regular push notifications that deep-link to a specific place in your app, in-app notifications give you the option to create and customize richer push experiences with photos and animated GIFs. We’ve open-sourced in-app notifications to make them fully customizable and extensible.
Sharing insights: These help you see the most popular stories shared from your website to Facebook and the aggregated demographics of the people who shared them, as well as a sentiment analysis, top quotes and other insights.
Breakdowns: These let you pivot your data across multiple dimensions including age, gender, platform, country, language, app version and more. They’re a great way to explore your data and answer questions like, “How much of my revenue is coming from a particular platform-operating system combination in a particular country?
Improved event trends: These help you better understand the demographics and behavior of your audience over time. For example, you can filter revenue trends based on a segment of people using older Android devices to decide whether you should continue supporting older devices.
App events export API: This application-programming interface enables developers to debug events and analyze your analytics data offline, allowing you access up to the last 30 days’ worth of your events.
Graph API v2.6
Facebook referred to its Graph API (application-programming interface) as “the backbone of our developer platform,” and software engineer Steven Elia detailed the updates included in the newest version, 2.6, in a blog post:
- Reactions API: A set of read-only APIs that enable developers and publishers to request Reactions and see data about the types of Reactions those posts received.
- Video API: Facebook’s Video API now includes the current broadcast state of a video in a new “live_status’” field, and page administrators can use cross-posted videos to create new posts from existing videos without having to re-upload the content. And video insights offer new metrics including lifetime minutes watched, daily view count and minutes watched for each video.
- Rights Manager API: Publishers can now claim copyright ownership for videos and manage copyright-matching rules.
- Marketing API: Elia revealed that Facebook is currently accepting beta-testers for its new Facebook Ads Java SDK (software-development kit), as well as launching Autogen versions of its Java, Python and PHP SDKs.
- Sharing for devices API: Devices including television sets, set-top boxes, digital photo frames and other Internet of Things devices can use Facebook’s share dialog.
Other new developer tools
Software engineer Vivek Hamirwasia provided details about localized technical documentation, Facebook’s new app dashboard, rate limiting and the social network’s API upgrade tool in a blog post:
- Localized technical documentation: In recognition of the fact that 70 percent of Facebook developers are located outside of the U.S., documentation for the social network’s most important products is now available in 16 languages.
- New app dashboard: The new version will be easier for developers to navigate and use, and it is more contextual and customized to each app.
- Rate limiting: Facebook will provide new charts on the app dashboard that show developers their apps’ progress toward their rate limits and which specific API calls are contributing to usage. The social network also announced that for page-management apps, rate limits will be relative to the number of people engaging with those pages, as of 90 days from Tuesday.
- API upgrade tool: This tool will ease the process of upgrading to the latest API version.
Free Basics Simulator and Demographic Insights
Facebook introduced two new tools aimed at easing the process for developers building apps for its Free Basics services from Internet.org.
Free Basics Simulator allows developers to ensure that their apps and websites function properly in regions with poor connectivity and via older devices. Internet.org said in a blog post:
Because Free Basics optimizes for browsing on older devices and with limited bandwidth, developers must adapt their services to perform under these constraints. Now, developers can use the Free Basics Simulator to test their websites early and often, which will make the submission process easier and more efficient. Any developer can access and use the Free Basics Simulator on the Free Basics Platform website. We hope the Free Basics Simulator will serve as a useful resource for developers looking to keep hardware and network constraints in mind as they build for the next billion people coming online.
Internet.org also launched demographic insights, allowing developers to see anonymized, aggregated data on users of their apps by categories including age range and gender, both overall and by specific country.