The likes of Skype, Telegram, and Kik aren't alone in their recent embrace of bots. It definitely looks like bots are going to be the new addition to every messaging platform out there, and today Facebook has unveiled bots for its Messenger app.
The development of bots will be made easy through the release of the new Facebook Messenger Platform beta, which was announced today at the social network's F8 conference.
Chatbots let businesses interact with you through Facebook Messenger, offering customer support, e-commerce features, guidance, content, and interactive experiences. For example, you can order flowers just by having a 'chat' with a bot in Messenger. Or a news outlet can send you customized updates throughout the day, skipping the content you're not interested in. An airline can send you check-in and gate information, your boarding pass, and many other bits of info while you're traveling, and you can reply asking for additional stuff. The possibilities here really are endless, especially if creating bots is as easy as possible, and if they're smart enough to emulate human conversations. Judging by what Facebook promises, they definitely should be - blending AI with natural language processing and actual human help.
One current limitation of the Messenger Platform is that you can't add a credit card to Messenger and then have that be automatically used for payments to the businesses you're talking to. That could obviously come in the future, though.
A new search bar that will show up in Messenger will help you find bots. Of course Facebook Messenger is pretty late to the bot party, but that's probably irrelevant because its reach is far bigger than any of its non-Facebook owned competitors. Messenger now has over 900 million active users. That said, it's still unclear when the new bot functionality will reach every single one of those.