If that tidbit has caught your attention then maybe I will be able to draw you in a little closer with this next piece of news. At Facebook’s April 12-13 F8 conference for developers, their initiative for chatbots on Messenger was announced.
Your next question might now be what is a chatbot? Well, a chatbot is a piece of interactive artificial intelligence software. The basic idea behind chatbots is that users are able to interact with the bot like they would normally do with a human being in order to get information or to carry out a task. It is quite intriguing stuff, really.
Chatbots have already been met with great success in China through the massively popular WeChat. Persons can make reservations at restaurants and book taxis easily with WeChat.
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With Messenger having so many users and the potential for effective and simplified communication through chatbots, the allure of chatbots, especially through Messenger, really comes about due to the potential convenience it offers to users.
Why download several apps to do different things when you could just use an interactive Messenger bot which gives you information and allows you to do things like book taxis with minimal effort.
You probably already have Messenger downloaded anyway. At least that’s the reasoning I see behind introducing chatbots to the app. That pretty much sums up the value proposition of Messenger bots.
Now let’s dive into how they actually work.
Note: Facebook Messenger is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
How it Works
Go ahead and launch your Facebook Messenger app and access the search bar in the Recent Tab. There, you should then input the name of the bot you are trying to launch.
The app I’m using in this example is Hi Poncho. It allows users to quickly check the weather by inputting their location.
Tap on the name of the app in order to begin your interaction.
Interactions are generally made easy. When the app needs a response from you, simply tap on the available buttons/options presented.
Relevant information is generally presented with appropriate, beautiful imagery which helps to make the experience pleasant.
Currently, there are not many companies who have released bots for Messenger as yet but this is expected to pick up since Messenger really does have a large user base. Also, one thing to consider with chatbots is that there are probably some specific details and actions that they won’t be able to provide. In those cases, users would need to divert to the relevant company’s website.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Chatbots are clearly great at providing quick details as well as carrying out routine actions. Messenger’s chatbots are looking great so far and they will be made more prevalent in the app’s interface as their development and adoption progresses.