It might not seem totally intuitive, but Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is getting into the Internet of Things. The social networking giant unveiled a new software-development kit for its Parse mobile development platform that enables developers to create apps that share data with connected devices.
Facebook unveiled the tool yesterday at its F8 developer conference. The goal is to make it easier for developers to incorporate data from connected objects into their apps. In theory, as The Verge notes, the SDK could enable users to be notified in their Facebook News Feed or via Facebook's Messenger app if their garage door opens or their sprinklers turn on, for example.
Several IoT firms are already using Parse. In a company blog post, Parse noted that these include "Chamberlain, who makes a line of smart garage door openers that interact with our REST API; Milestone Sports, who make the wearable running tracker Milestone Pod; and Roost, who make smart batteries for smoke detectors. From these conversations, we decided we could go one step further."
"The possibilities are endless," Parse's James Yu wrote in the post. "You could make a smart thermostat that can be controlled via a mobile app, or a security camera that saves images every minute, or even a music device that can be controlled via a web app. We're so excited to see what you build."
As VentureBeat notes, other startups and software firms are already doing what Facebook and Parse are getting into. Waygum, for example, serves as a mobile backend for the "Industrial Internet." Additionally, in October mobile platform provider Kii announced an IoT platform.
Larger technology companies are also getting in on the act, including Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), with HomeKit, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), with its Nest acquisition.
Meanwhile, Faceook also used F8 to unveil an update to its Messenger app called Messenger Platform. As The Verge notes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the messaging app is now an ecosystem that can be used to create and share content independent of the News Feed.
Facebook has teamed up with 47 companies to start with that will integrate natively with Messenger, including ESPN, the Weather Channel, JibJab and Ditty. The end result is that content companies or anyone else will be able to more directly access users through Facebook and the platform. The apps can be installed immediately from the Messenger App Store, according to The Verge, and content can be shared after the app is integrated. Developers can start creating apps for Platform right now.
Facebook says more than 600 million people use Messenger each month, creating a huge audience to whom developers can push news, photos, music and videos through the platform.
Further, Facebook is making it possible to communicate through Messenger with businesses, and companies can integrate Messenger into their websites. When a customer is completing a transaction on a website, for example, he can start a conversation with a business, receive updates from that business on items such as order confirmations and shipping-status updates, and ask the business free-form questions about the order.
The implications of these two developments are large. As both The Verge and BuzzFeed note, Facebook is creating a social and commerce platform akin to LINE and WeChat in China. It seems that Facebook is making clear its desire to be the platform through which consumers not only access news about their social networks, but news, content and commerce in general.
- see this Parse blog post
- see this VentureBeat article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Facebook blog post on Messenger
- see this separate CNET article
- see these two separate The Verge articles
- see this BuzzFeed article
Facebook open-sources tool to let developers test apps on 2G, 3G and LTE network conditions
Google, Facebook willing to work together to expand Internet access despite differing approaches
Facebook CEO touts Internet.org progress, trumpets success of free tier of service
Ericsson: Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Instagram and Snapchat make up 61% of U.S. mobile app traffic
Facebook launches Facebook Lite app designed for 2G networks in emerging markets
Facebook posts records in quarterly mobile ad revenues, traffic