At its annual two-day F8 developer conference held in San Francisco, California, Facebook unveiled chatbots platform for its Messenger app that allows businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through chatbots. Now Messenger joins the group of chat apps, including Kik, Line and Telegram embracing chatbots.
Facebook announced a slew of chatbot partnerships with developers who got early access, like 1-800-Flowers, so you can order flowers by just sending its Messenger bot a friend’s name. Or a news portal could send you a “daily digest” of stories that match your interests, and skip the topics you don’t care about. Zuckerberg explained that with AI and natural language processing combined with human help, people will be able to talk to Messenger bots just like they talk to friends.
Messenger’s new chatbots platform can send more than just text. They can interact with structural messages that include text, images and call to action buttons. 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 persistent search bar at the top of Messenger will help people discover bots. According to Facebook, there have been more than 50 million businesses on Messenger, which boasts 900 million monthly active users. The company said it is aiming to provide great valuable experiences for users and added value for businesses.
Facebook also released a set of tools to allow software developers to create chatbots for the Messenger in partnership with businesses.
While being new to the US social media’s messaging app, chatbots have already been incorporated in some Asian popular messaging services, such as China’s Wechat. Other tech giants like Microsoft and Google are also working to bring this technology to their platforms.
Zuckerburg said that Facebook will focus on connectivity, artificial intelligence and augmented reality over the next 10 years.