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Facebook's 10-year roadmap revealed at F8 conference, includes chatbots and AR

At its F8 developer conference earlier today, Facebook revealed its roadmap for the next 10 years, and as you can see from the image above, it is organized into three main sections, or "horizons" - as Zuckerberg calls them.

The first section is about improving and growing the Facebook platform, and that involves extending its reach to the developing world - think regions such as India and Africa - as well as ramping up its efforts on cloud infrastructure and the React Native framework for mobile app development.

The next section is about Facebook's family of popular apps and services, such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, video, and search.

Over the next five years, Facebook wants to offer developers the necessary tools to grow an entire ecosystem around each of these apps, which can offer better monetization opportunities. One way to achieve that will be to use the sheer scale of Facebook Messenger to help businesses connect and interact with their customers through a central hub, instead of relying on a separate app.

To give you an idea of how big Facebook Messenger is, Zuckerberg says that the app was growing even faster than the Facebook app last year, and has just recently passed 900 million monthly users. Not only that, but people are sending over 60 billion messages every day, while SMS is currently estimated at around 20 billion messages per day.

Where things get interesting is that just like Microsoft did at Build 2016, Facebook is introducing a bot framework as part of the new Messenger Platform Beta. Developers can now build chatbots for Facebook Messenger that can learn your habits and preferences to give you personalized news, or pull information that you request from a specific service, in a similar way to how Cortana works on Windows 10.

Businesses will be able to give you automated customer support, and there are several companies that have early access and are building bots for Messenger. One such example is 1-800-Flowers, which will allow you to send flowers without having to install a new app or make a phone call. You just select an item, tell the chatbot who is the recipient, and you're golden.

The bots will not be limited to text, as developers can also choose to integrate images, links, or call-to-action buttons. You'll be able to find bots via a new persistent search bar at the top of the Messenger app, and silencing them will be as simple as just tapping a block button that appears at the top of every conversation.

Moving on to the last "horizon" in the roadmap, Facebook wants to work on a number of new projects such as 360-degree cameras, drones, lasers, machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented reality. The company believes that VR headsets will eventually be the size of a normal pair of glasses.

Furthermore, Zuckerberg thinks that smart glasses will soon be able to do both VR and AR at the same time, which means that Microsoft's Windows Holographic is in for some serious competition from Facebook in the augmented reality race, as the latter company plans to change the future of sharing, conversation, and media consumption - such as TV - using a comfortable pair of glasses similar to the one in the image above.

Another ten-year goal for Facebook is to connect five billion people in the developing world to the internet. The company will approach this project in two ways - the first involves "beaming down" internet to sub-Saharan Africa using lightweight, solar-powered drones, as well as building better hardware to improve internet access in both urban and rural areas.

The second part of this project is about continuing with the push of its infamous Free Basics program, which Facebook says has helped more than 25 million people around the world get online. Starting today, developers can access a Free Basics simulator to get an idea of how well their apps would perform on the platform.

What do you think about Facebook's ambitious plans? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sources: TechCrunch and TheNextWeb

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