June 03, 2021 at 11:56AM

Business messaging tools, eCommerce, and virtual reality were on the agenda at Facebook’s annual F8 Refresh conference for developers, this year held virtually on Wednesday (June 2).

The world’s largest social network said this year’s F8 conference focused on technologies that enable developers and businesses to build and grow on Facebook’s platforms. Facebook is aiming to launch tools that will enable seamless interactions between businesses and customers of Instagram and WhatsApp. It also wants to help creators make money on its platforms.

“Every day, more than 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account to discuss products and get customer support,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, VP Platform Partnerships, said in a blog post. 

“As more people turn to WhatsApp to connect with businesses, we’re announcing new updates that will make it easier for businesses to get started using the WhatsApp Business API and for people to easily chat with these businesses,” Papamiltiadis said.

The conference focused on Facebook technologies created to “unlock new opportunities” so that developers and businesses worldwide can “build and grow on our platforms.”

New upgrades include faster onboarding so that businesses can get started on the WhatsApp Business API in just five minutes. Additional messaging features and more ways to interact with customers are also in the works.

According to Facebook, 90 percent of Instagram users follow at least one business. New tools will help businesses message customers on the platform.  It is also testing a separate feature for people to opt into messaging with businesses.

“Whether it’s story replies, direct messages, or mentions, engaging with brands is increasingly appealing for customers and important for businesses,” Papamiltiadis said.

Facebook also is continuing its work on augmented reality glasses and is aiming to streamline the process for developers to build augmented reality effects for group calls. 

“We envision a world that is overlaid with a landscape of virtual objects that helps us share, learn and play together, regardless of the distance between us,” Chris Barbour, director of partnerships for Spark AR, Facebook’s augmented reality software, told Cnet.

Facebook’s first-quarter earnings in April topped analysts’ expectations, with revenue reaching $26.17 billion for the quarter, up 48 percent year on year. Net income was up 94 percent to $9.5 billion, from $4.9 billion this time last year. 

Facebook’s F8 For Developers Focuses On eCommerce, Business Tools …

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