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Following a week packed with product launches, a Facebook's developer conference, F8, is set to shed new light on the power of chatbots, live streaming and the Messenger app.
Facebook's F8, an annual pow wow for technologists that build products on top of the Facebook platform, commences early Tuesday in San Francisco. Rife with business ideas, the schedule bursts with guides for monetizing Messenger, Instagram, video streaming, payments, games and apps.
Facebook has been mum so far on the announcements in store for the conference and did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. But based on recent roll-outs and rumors swirling, here are some changes that could be fleshed out at the event.
Perhaps the most buzzed-about announcement expected from F8 is rollout of a chatbot — a robot, powered by artificial intelligence, that you communicate with on Facebook's Messenger app.
Rather than launch an additional app to book a flight or hail a car, one could theoretically chat up a bot to do the task in an more "natural" way of communication, USA Today reported. That could mean spending even more time on Facebook — talking to businesses, to boot.
Canadian messaging app Kik is among apps that have already launched "bot shops" with partners like H&M and Sephora.
Bots or no bots, Facebook already showed its big investment in live video last week, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself took to the airwaves, debuting features to make it easier for users to find and share clips. There may even be an announcement of a standalone video app at F8, Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a Thursday research note.
Despite a rocky start, it wasn't long before Live Video was heralded as the "future of TV" thanks to an exploding watermelon streamed by Buzzfeed last Friday. What does that mean for developers? A platform that's more competitive with Alphabet's YouTube and Twitter's Periscope, according to Schachter.
"With the recently launched features for Facebook Live along with potential new video experiences, we expect video on (and possibly off-FB) to remain one of the most important areas for FB," Schachter wrote.
While Live Video was busy stealing the spotlight, Facebook quietly broke out some new features aimed at small business owners last week. Business pages now have usernames with "@" signs similar to those used for tagging friends. These usernames will give each page a unique identity and allow users to interact with the business owners via Facebook's Messenger app, the company said in a release Thursday.
Other updates include a feature called Messenger Links and Codes, where business can share a clickable link or scannable QR-like codes that open a Messenger conversation with the business.
It's all tied to Facebook's push toward eCommerce, Schachter wrote, likely to be expanded at F8's sessions.
Though virtual reality has been an ancillary business for Facebook, the Oculus-owner boasts several VR sessions on the technology at F8. And Schachter said he expects partnership announcements, starting with sports and entertainment companies, to emerge from the conference.
"We expect FB to say it's still early days, but to start to focus on allowing users to generate their own VR content," Schachter wrote. "This will be the first large FB event post Oculus launch and we expect the focus to shift from hardware to the software/content for the platform."
While you can send peer-to-peer payments, and pay your Uber via Messenger, Facebook has yet to venture into in-person transactions. But that could be the next step for Facebook to face-off against fellow tech-titan Apple, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Martin Pyykkonen told Investor's Business Daily. It's an opinion bolstered by reports by investigative technology blog The Information.
"We expect the F8 pitch will include Facebook's Messenger app pushing further into a wide variety of business and consumer services," Pyykkonen wrote in a note cited by IBD. "We are especially focused on Facebook's developer direction with mobile payments within the Messenger app."