Written by Adam Hirsch

On May 1st and 2nd, Facebook held its F8 Developer Conference in San Jose, CA. As it was my first time attending, I tried to soak in as much as possible, went to over ten sessions in-person, watched many more online and spent considerable time on the expo floor talking to the different product teams set up there. The most valuable part was to have the opportunity to have these experts answer my questions on the spot. And of course, news outlets and social media were buzzing with new announcements and updates coming out of this conference.

With all keynote sessions and overall conversations at F8, here are five key highlights:

  • User Privacy

The conference made it clear that Facebook is focused on protecting users. Pervasive throughout every major session, this focus means that users will gain even more control and flexibility over the coming months. This includes features such as a “Clear History” button to more user-friendly controls. The continuous highlighting of user privacy and control came through words such as “Build for users”… and with a focus on building “together” for “good”.

  • Doing Good

Every new product and initiative will aim to ask the question: “is it good for the user”. This ranges from new products and features to the main social experience. The aim of doing good will extend to crisis situations, with a focus on wellness, including the expansion of their blood donations technology. The last Day 2 keynote included amazing stories and statistics showcasing what they are already doing.  During their Authenticity and Quality in News Feed  session, they discussed how AI and algorithms are meant to predict the most relevant newsfeed content, using the same technologies to prevent terrorist, graphic violence and fake news from entering users’ feeds in the first place.

  • Artificial Intelligence and the Importance of Data

AI was a prevalent throughout every session. It’s how Facebook “works”. The entire Day 2 keynote focused on the applications of AI and the importance of its underlying data. They discussed how AI is used to program the news feed and how it powers new intelligent products, including AR. If you want to understand the power of AI, I strongly encourage you to watch the Day 2 keynote, which was very fascinating.

  • Social Video

Video on Facebook and platforms will become even more social. Facebook is launching Watch Party (synchronized group video watching) and a similar version of that for Oculus (VR). Watch Party is similar to Twitter’s live TV experiences and has the potential to gain a lot of traction once it’s formally launched. Facebook is also going to roll out group video calling to Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. There were also new enhancements to creating livestreaming group experiences, and we can expect many more announcements to come.

  • Messenger

There are an impressive 300,000 monthly active bots and have been 8 billion messages to businesses. In addition, there were quite a few announcements including  new AR + social video features and a new “streamlined” design coming soon. However, according to most developers I talked to, there are many more announcements to come in the next few months. I spent a lot of time talking to Messenger engineers and related chatbot platform partners, so please reach out if you have any questions.

Overall the mood was excited for what’s to come, and for the potential of AI, AR and related technologies to become more mainstream this year. in addition, based on my conversations throughout F8, expect to hear more from Facebook throughout 2018. Finally, as promised, here are some of my favorite recaps from F8: Here’s everything that happened at F8 today, Mashable… Everything Facebook announced at F8 2018, VentureBeat… and 5 biggest announcements from Facebook’s F8 2018 developer conference, The Boy Genius Report, Watch Facebook’s F8 opening keynote in under 15 minutesEngadget.