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Bots Are Coming To Facebook Messenger

Bots Are Coming To Facebook Messenger

Bots Are Coming To Facebook Messenger

During its F8 Developer Conference 2016 taking place in San Francisco, Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg declared a new service feature called "bots for Messenger" that will work on the company's already existing Messenger Platform. 

“I've never met anyone that likes calling a business, and no one wants to install a new app for every service or business they want to interact with," said Zuckerberg. "So we think you should be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend."

"It should get a quick response, and it shouldn't take your full attention like a phone call would, and you shouldn't have to install a new app," Zuckerberg added. "So today we're launching Messenger Platform, so you could build bots for Messenger."

On Tuesday Facebook declared a new API that will permit developers to build bots into Messenger. The thought is that brands and retailers like CNN or 1-800-Flowers can connect with users by messaging, and automate those conversations to remove the need for human-to-human interaction.

Zuckerberg hopes that these applications will make it much simpler for users to get updates or responses from various services, freeing the users from installing apps on their phone, or talking to customer support personnel.

That implies user will soon be able to order flowers through private messaging without ever needing to chat with another person, for example. CNN and 1-800-Flowers were named onstage as early partners, however, it is likely that much more will be shown off throughout the day.

This thought first came about at last year’s F8 conference, where Facebook introduce a Messenger platform so that these kinds of integrations would be possible down the road.

Messenger bots will make restaurant and plane reservations much easier, and are not the classic dumb bots everybody was thinking about when the news disclosed about Facebook's intentions. The social networking giant believes that bots will cut down, even more, the dead time spent carrying out ordinary tasks such as searching for news stories, shopping, or weather forecasts.

How Messenger bots work

Through the Messenger Platform’s new Send/Receive API, bots can send more than just text. They will have the capacity to respond to structured messages that contain links, images, and call to action buttons. These could permit users to make a restaurant reservation, review an e-commerce order and more. The user can swipe through product carousels and pop out to the web to pay for a purchase.

Importantly, Facebook’s Messenger Platform at present doesn't permit payments directly through a credit card added to Messenger.

Here’s how Facebook’s head of messaging David Marcus explained it to us last fall:

“You don’t want to call your airline or your bank. You don’t want to call anyone for business purposes, actually. It’s not that fun. [We want to] change that interaction model to make it look and feel more like it used to in the good old days when you walked into stores and had great interactions with the businesses you care about”

For individuals who don’t know how to build bots, Facebook is offering a “bot engine” to help developers build them. That engine will be powered by, an artificial intelligence startup it bought in January of 2015 to help people chat with robots.

The simplest way to find bots on Facebook is by searching from within the Messenger app. Just type a business into the search bar at the top of Messenger. But a user can also get bots by scanning a business' Messenger Code by clicking on a Messenger Link — custom URLs that deep link back to message threads within Messenger.  

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