Science

Mark Zuckerberg announces business chatbots, live video from drones

Facebook is letting businesses connect with customers using automated chatbots on Messenger and providing tools that will allow live video to be streamed to Facebook from devices such as drones.

Two-day Facebook developer conference kicked off Tuesday

CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the Messenger app during last year's Facebook F8 Developer Conference. New Messenger features, including chatbots that will automate conversations with retailers, are expected at this year's conference, which starts at 1 p.m. ET today. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Facebook is letting businesses connect with customers using automated chatbots on Messenger and providing tools that will allow live video to be streamed to Facebook from devices such as drones.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement during his keynote at the Facebook F8 developer conference in San Francisco Tuesday.

The two-day conference started at 1 p.m. ET.

"I've never met anyone who likes calling a business," Zuckerberg told the audience.

Facebook's solution is a new tool to build automated chatbots for Messenger. Such tools could allow people to send messages to receive personalized news about particular topics from media outlets such as CNN.

Zuckerberg demonstrated how the service could be used to order flowers.

"Now, to order from 1-800-FLOWERS, you never have to call 1-800-FLOWERS again," he said.

A similar feature was unveiled by Waterloo, Ont.-based Kik, a Messenger competitor, a week ago, with retail partners such as H&M and Sephora.

Zuckerberg said last year that Messenger was the fastest-growing app in the U.S., and it has just passed 90 million active monthly users. He added that each day, users of Messenger and WhatsApp — another Facebook-owned messaging app — send 60 billion messages a day, three times more than the peak number of text messages daily.

"Messenger is going to be the next big platform for sharing privately," he said.

Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook will be offering a developer tool to allow any device to stream live video to Facebook's new live feature. He demonstrated it with a drone broadcasting video of its view as it flew in from the back of the room.

360-degree video

 Facebook has also developed its own camera — a special device designed to take "immersive" 360-degree video that can be shared on the social network. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said Facebook doesn't plan to sell the camera to consumers but will share its design to encourage other firms to find new uses for 360-degree video.

Yesterday, Dropbox announced on its blog that users who have both Messenger and Dropbox apps installed on their mobile device will now be able to share photos, videos and other files stored in Dropbox without leaving the Messenger app.

Dropbox announced on its blog yesterday that users who have both Messenger and Dropbox apps installed on their mobile device will now be able to share photos, videos and other files stored in Dropbox without leaving the Messenger app. (Dropbox)

"Giving our users the ability to share their Dropbox videos and images in Messenger threads with just a few taps will help them bring more style and personality to those conversations," Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Facebook Messenger, said in the blog post.

With files from the Associated Press

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