Facebook F8 conference's key developer tools may reshape social media app landscape

Dan Kobialka, FierceDeveloperWhat does the future hold for Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) developers? Thousands of developers attended the F8 conference at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center last week to find out.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the conference with a keynote that highlighted the social network's 10-year roadmap. Plus, many new technologies were announced that may reshape the development landscape. 

So what should developers expect from Facebook over the next decade? Here are three key takeaways from F8: 

1. Facebook wants developers to embrace Facebook Live

Facebook is making it easier for developers to deliver interactive video experiences, thanks to its new Live API

The Live API may help developers foster new partnerships with publishers. And together, developers and publishers will be better equipped "to build immersive and interactive live video experiences on Facebook," according to Facebook Product Manager Daniel Danker. 

Ultimately, the Live API's value will depend on whether developers leverage it to deliver video-rich experiences to their target audiences. 

Fortunately for developers, Facebook is offering Live API Documentation that provides extensive information they can use to maximize the value of the Live API.

This documentation gives the Live API a fighting chance by making it simple for developers to learn what it takes to create, stream and update live videos via Facebook Live. 

2. Developers now can leverage two Free Basics tools

The Facebook Free Basics Platform was launched in September to help make the Internet more accessible to people across the globe. And today, the platform may provide developers with the opportunity to promote their apps and services to new audiences.

Free Basics offers free access to websites like AccuWeather, ESPN and, of course, Facebook. It also allows developers to "extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities around the world," according to Facebook. 

In addition, Facebook unveiled two tools at F8 that could empower developers to build apps for Free Basics -- Free Basics Simulator and Demographic Insights. 

With Free Basics Simulator, developers can test their apps or services, identify bugs and eliminate such issues before submitting their offerings to Facebook for approval.

Meanwhile, the Demographic Insights tool provides developers with additional insights into target audience members' ages and genders.

The new Free Basics tools may help developers maximize the quality of their apps and services and could make Free Basics development a much more appealing option for developers to promote and build their brands globally. 

3. React Native could change the way developers build apps

React Native serves as a framework that enables developers to build app experiences on native platforms. However, React Native does not serve as a "write once, run anywhere" framework, which has led some developers to avoid it.  

Facebook remains committed to React Native and announced the following React Native ecosystem additions at F8:

  • React Native for Windows

  • React Native for Tizen (the OS for all Samsung SmartTVs)

  • Facebook software development kit (SDK)

The React Native framework is designed to provide "a consistent developer experience based on JavaScript and React," Facebook notes.

Going forward, React Native could provide developers with a powerful framework they can use to build user-friendly iOS and Android interfaces. 

And with Facebook's ongoing investments in the framework, the social network could make it easier for developers to optimize the value of React Native, too. -- Dan