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Facebook's F8 conference: What it is, what to expect

MANILA, Philippines – From a simple website for Harvard students to being the world's biggest social media site, Facebook flew from zero to hero at an unprecedented rate – changing how people use the Internet, interact with each other, and do business.   

The social media giant now stands in the center of commerce and has since become a battlefield for brands and publishers around the world. Even the simplest changes in the platform, after all, can have an effect on industries.

As Facebook gears up for its annual F8 global developer conference from April 12 to 13 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California, let's take a look at what the company has been up to lately.

What is F8?

F8 is Facebook's annual conference for developers and entrepreneurs who rely on its services. The conference serves as the site's curtain raiser for its newest products and features. 

The term F8 came from Facebook's internal tradition of holding 8-hour hackathons during its early days. 

During the first F8 in 2007, Facebook introduced a "social graph" that depicts the interpersonal connections of Internet users – basically a visualization of social networks.

In the 2010 F8 conference, Facebook first unveiled its social plugins – the "Like" button, recommendations, and the activity feed – and the open graph protocol.

The Facebook Timeline, which replaced the Wall, was showcased in the 2011 F8 conference. Facebook users' posts were organized according to the time they were created and uploaded.

What's in store this year?

Brands, developers, and analysts are expecting the Messenger app, which recently topped 900 million active users, to take center stage in this year's F8.

It is pretty much an open secret now that Facebook is planning to bring chat bots to the app, in order to get brands to bring in their services. Brands would be able to use artificial intelligence (AI) to send automated replies on Messenger and direct users to their services. Imagine booking your flights through Messenger, or a chat bot taking your pizza delivery order.

Developers are expecting Facebook to launch a software development kit for chat bots to make the new feature more accessible for brands.

Facebook is also investing big in videos – having just launched breakthrough features like 360-degree videos and Facebook Live. Just recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself introduced the Live feature on his own timeline.

Facebook has been aggressively rolling out new features for Facebook Live, including new filters, live reactions, and the Live Map. Brands, analysts, and developers are expecting even more features and tools to be announced this year.

In a research note last week, Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter said Facebook is trying to give YouTube a run for its money by beefing up its video features. Recode suggests that Facebook will need to give publishers the ability to go live using higher-quality cameras to "accommodate TV-like production" and entice them to use the service.

Meanwhile, the public is also excited to hear about Facebook's venture into virtual reality, with the Oculus Rift fresh out of the oven. On this note, Mashable is expecting Facebook to take the opportunity to talk more about 360-degree videos and tell developers and content creators how they can optimize these videos for the Rift.

F8 viewing party

For this year's F8 conference, Rappler and Kickstart Ventures are partnering with Facebook to cohost a viewing party and networking event dubbed F8 Meetup Manila.

The event happens at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, April 13 (Manila time) at the Rappler office in Pasig City.

Are you also looking forward to this year's F8? What are you expecting to hear? Tell us in the comments or write them on X– Rappler.com