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Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

After taking a break last year, Facebook’s F8 is back as a fully-fledged developer conference online. The company released details on Wednesday with all the new tech it’s about to uncover.

In this article, we’re going over all the new announcements that Facebook has made during the 2021 F8 Refresh, including Messenger API for Instagram, Whatsapp Business API update, Login Connect, Spark AR and more.

Messenger API for Instagram finally available to all developers

Starting Wednesday, all developers can access the Messenger API for Instagram, allowing business to integrate Instagram DMs into their workflows of choice. 

The move is said to make “more meaningful conversations that increase customer satisfaction and grow sales”, but it remains to be seen how will this API be implemented. 

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New updates for the WhatsApp Business API

Facebook has brought several new updates to the Whatsapp Business API to make it easier for businesses to get started. 

Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

First up, the API onboarding process now takes just five minutes, compared to the weeks users had to wait before. In addition, there are new messaging features, such as list messages (for up to 10 items) and reply buttons that allow people to make a quick selection. 

Message businesses directly using Facebook Login Flow

Facebook has announced Login Connect with Messenger, a feature that’ll allow users to “opt into messaging with businesses directly from the Facebook Login flow.”

Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

Facebook says that out of the total test participants who enabled Login Connect, more than 70% opted to message the business. The feature is still in closed beta testing and will be released in the coming months. 

A new platform for building business apps

While introducing Business Apps, Facebook claims that they’ll be adding third-party tools built by independent developers. All these tools will be accessible to the millions of businesses currently on the Facebook Business Suite. 

Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

The developer platform to showcase and integrate these apps will be called Facebook Business Extension. Invitations to join the early access will start in the coming months. 

Spark AR gets new capabilities

The company has previewed a new Multipeer API for Spark AR. This new API will allow creators to build effects “that deliver a coordinated experience across multiple call participants.” The new long-form capability will allow creators and developers to build AR experiences for video calling on Messenger, Instagram and Portal. 

Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

PyTorch becomes Facebook’s default AI/ML framework

Starting Wednesday, PyTorch will become Facebook’s default framework for building all of its AI and ML models. This will help the company to share its work as 0pen-source libraries and learn from the community’s efforts.

Facebook F8 Refresh 2021 roundup: AI and API changes are coming

PyTorch is an open-source ML framework co-created by Facebook AI researchers in 2016 in collaboration with many other AI leaders. 

Investing in ‘Girls in Tech’

Lastly, the company announced that it’d be donating $250,000 to Girls in Tech == a nonprofit organisation that focuses on bridging the current gender gap in tech. 

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