As controversy swirls, Facebook dials down the swagger on its developer conference

Write with your brain. "Hey" with your skin. And in the case of an emergency, here is a helicopter to the rescue with free internet access. The announcements from last year's F8 developer conference discovered that Facebook is at the height of its ambition, as Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives outlined a vision in which Facebook delivered state-of-the-art technology with advanced artificial intelligence technology and a thriving ecosystem of developers.

Then, the person who directed the brain typing and skin hearing jobs left the company after 18 months, the Cambridge Analytica scandal caused the public's confidence in Facebook to plummet and the company rushed to shut down part of its developer platform. Plans to unveil a home speaker on F8 were canceled at the last minute for fear it would further annoy an already skeptical public about Facebook's data collection practices.

It is expected that the series of events leading to F8 will produce a greater muted issue than in previous years. (Much of the event had to be reviewed in the last weeks after the company started closing the APIs, people familiar with the subject The Verge .) On the one hand, the event, which takes place on the Tuesday and Wednesday in San Jose, it is still very hot. Facebook says it is the largest F8 of all time, with more than 50 sessions available for a record crowd of 5,000 attendees.

But the company recognizes that the event comes at a time when Facebook is radically rethinking its relationship with these developers. "We will always make important changes to the platform, trying to find the right balance between creating attractive social experiences, protecting people's data and supporting an ecosystem of innovative developers," said Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships at Facebook, email . "These changes can be detrimental, but the Facebook developers are amazing partners and they help us ensure that the platform allows for social and safe experiences."

It remains to be seen if the company will receive a warm reception from partners who have been affected by the changes. [19659006] Justin Krause runs a startup called Pod that builds a smart calendar app for iOS. Until this month, the application integrates with Facebook to include social application events in its calendar. Then, after this month's Congress hearings, Facebook revoked Pod's access to the calendar's API without prior notice.

"They did not announce that they were revoking this information or sending errors, they just started sending empty lists, silently," Krause said. "We discovered that things broke when users wrote, and then we had to work hard to get a solution in the App Store (which takes time, because Apple has to approve it)."

Krause said the move had left him unsure if his company would bother to work with Facebook in the future. "We were very proud of our integration of first class events on Facebook, but we will think twice before investing time on the Facebook platform, if we have the opportunity to do so," he said.

Anjney Midha, co-Founder of an augmented reality company called Ubiquity 6, told me he was skipping F8 for the first time in years. The original vision for developers at F8, which could connect to the company's social chart to quickly grow their own businesses, is greatly diminished, he said. "All that promise is gone," Midha said. "It seems you have to pack and move to another place."

The official calendar of F8 suggests several areas in which Facebook continues to promote developers: virtual reality, where developers need to invest in their Oculus. platform; games, which has been put on Facebook Messenger; and Workplace, your Facebook version for companies.

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg will kick off the event with an opening speech that is expected to address the scandals last year and focus on Facebook's responsibility to the world. The main speech on Wednesday is expected to focus on future directions for Facebook, the sources said.

The company also seems ready to tackle at least some of the scandals last year. There is a session on "Authenticity and quality in News Feed," for example, and "How to help high-quality news on Facebook thrive." The sessions also demonstrate Facebook's acceptance of emerging markets, sessions dedicated to the creation of technology products in India and other countries (There is also an intriguing call "How the collaborative economy developed in China and beyond", with a company of bicycles shared in Beijing Facebook can not operate in China, but desperately wants it)

Of course, F8 is not only about developers It also offers Facebook the opportunity to divert attention from its faults. The company is as ambitious as ever, and we should expect to know more about where it is investing: in AI, in augmented reality and virtual reality, in global access to the Internet and in consumer hardware, among other areas.

Other questions pending the event: will Zuckerberg go to Cambridge Analytica on stage? (Probably.) Will we hear an update on the audience with our skin? (Even the odds). Will Facebook throw caution to the wind and presume anyway the speaker of his house? (Probably not.)

In any case, it promises to be Facebook's strangest developer conference to date: it's the only one held in the middle of a massive API shutdown. Facebook will still give the world a lot to talk about this week, but it is not clear that it will give developers a lot that is interesting to build.