At Microsoft's BUILD two weeks ago, Microsoft announced that they were bringing bots to Skype. Bots are starting to become the next big thing when it comes to messaging services. Microsoft has been billing them as personal assistants within Skype. These bots can take care of your calendar and add appointments and such to your calendar. But on the business side, they are also great for doing customer service. Something that has really been popular on social media as of late. Facebook had been rumored to be introducing bots for their Messaging service at their developer conference, f8, this week, and today that did happen.
According to Facebook, developers can now create their own bots inside Messenger, and give it a range of functionality. One of the tools announced today by Facebook for developers to build these bots was an API. This API is set to give developers the ability to build chat bots as well as chat widgets for the web. During the introduction at f8 today, the focus was on commerce. Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg showed during the presentation, that a CNN chat bot can send news stories to subscribers – and these stories would become personalized over time, by the user telling it what it did and didn't like to see. The other demo was for 1-800-FLOWERS. These bots allowed you to order flowers without having to call them.
Bots are becoming a pretty big deal recently with messaging services. Where Skype announced it two weeks ago, Telegram and Kik already have their own bot store. However, Facebook Messenger is much larger than any of those competitors. So having Facebook open up bots for Messenger is a much bigger deal and could really get it on the map. As far as we can tell, these bots are only for Facebook Messenger, and not WhatsApp – which is also owned by Facebook – although that may change in the near future. Who knows, soon you may be using Facebook Messenger to get customer service from Ford, and be interacting with a bot. It's sort of similar to how we have bots controlling phone lines, when you call most large businesses (Comcast, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc).