At the on-going Facebook F8 event that kicked off last night, the social networking company finally took the curtains off chatbots for its messaging app. Called Bots for Messenger, it is like an automated messaging service for Facebook Messenger, to help businesses with commerce, customer support, and even news announcements.
At the event, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, demonstrated how to order flowers from a company using only chatbots, and of course, using conversational language. Other examples on what Bots can do include how news channels like CNN can send breaking news directly to subscribers, and a Poncho weather bot that gives humorous weather updates.
This is not a new service of course, Telegram and KIK have bot stores, and at the Microsoft Build developer conference last month, the company also announced a bot platform. However, what makes Facebook stand out is that it is extremely popular, with over 900 million active users on Messenger every month. Together with WhatsApp, they process 60 million messages a day – that’s three times more than SMS.
To those who are concerned about things like spams, Facebook says that users will be able to block messages from bots anytime they want. Facebook is currently experimenting with allowing sponsored messages from businesses, so this is definitely an essential tool.
Along with this announcement, Facebook also released an API that allow developers to build chat bots for Messenger and chat widgets from the web. As for users like ourselves, Messenger will now have a search bar at the top of the app to let you search for bot stores. It will also auto-populate bot suggestions based on your preference and what it thinks you might like.