Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that it is opening up its social network messaging app to third party developers, allowing them to add applications on its systems.
Plans to turn Facebook Messenger into a “platform” for apps created by other companies were announced at the firm’s F8 conference in San Francisco. Mr Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, called it an “exciting big new area and opportunity for Facebook”.
So far more than 40 new add-on apps have already been developed such as video chat, gifs and audio services that will be launched in the coming days. The move will enable users to communicate directly with businesses, for example to change an order as well as track its delivery.
“Facebook used to be this single blue app and it did a lot of different things, now Facebook is a family of apps,” Mr Zuckerberg said. Moving from being a chat app to a fully-fledged platform of its own is the biggest shift Facebook made in their strategy, he added.
The initial kit for developers to build their software into Messenger is already available, with ESPN being one of the first apps to have built one supported in Messenger.
Facebook Messenger – that now has more than 600 million monthly users – will foster other features such as real-time shopping updates via Messenger. This will start a message thread with the brand a user has shopped with, David Marcus, vice president of messaging products, said, so they can track and alter an order via an instant message conversation.
“It’s time for us to reinvent how people and businesses communicate,” he said.
Facebook is also to begin supporting virtual reality on its news feed, with users being able to put on a VR headset and explore a virtual location. They will be able to view videos filmed with multiple cameras and move the viewpoint in order to explore a location.
Mr Zuckerberg also revealed plans to launch an associated service called Business on Messenger and rumour has it he is in talks with various media organisations about hosting their content rather than simply linking to it.
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