The messaging app Kik is one step ahead of you, Facebook.

Kik announced on Tuesday that it has officially opened up a shop for third-party developers to be able to create bots that can be used in the app.

Many people are predicting that Facebook will announce its very own bot store for Messenger at its annual developer conference that will take place next week. It appears that bots are the new craze for apps, with Microsoft also recently announcing that Cortana will now be integrated into Skype, as well as a new Skype Bot SDK program that allows businesses and brands to build their own robots with which users will be able to chat.

Kik has already been on top of this trend, previously offering bots to its users. However, now, any developer will be able to build their own bot that can interact with the messaging app's user base. Just keep in mind that Kik has to first approve it.

The Bot Shop launched today with 16 different bots that are part of three categories: entertainment, lifestyle and games. These bots are from companies like Vine, Sephora, H&M and J-14.

These bots make perfect sense to be featured on the chat app, because Kik is popularly used by teens to chat. In fact, out of its more than 275 million users, about 40 percent are made up of teens in the U.S.

The idea surrounding bots is that — depending on the platform they are featured on — consumers will be able to ask questions, receive customer service or just stay informed about what's new with that particular business or brand in an entertaining way.

"We want our users to have more fun and engaging experiences in Kik without having to leave the app," founder and CEO of Kik Ted Livingston said in a press release. "We've been innovating in chat in the last few years and have found that the best results come from low-friction experiences that don't hurt the simplicity of chat. Bots deliver that."

The messaging app previously allowed brands to pay to set up automated accounts where the bots would do things like release content like a GIF or give a recommendation.

Now, Kik users can use the Weather Channel bot, for example, to get the morning forecast or take a celebrity quiz with the J-14 bot.

Users can start a new chat with these bots in the app, and check the full list on its website here. Third-party developers can go to the developer's site to start building their own bots.

Kik also announced three new chat bot features, which include: "wubbles," Web bubbles for sharing media in conversation threads; suggested responses for faster replies; and a mention feature so that bots can join the party in group messages.

Kik is available to download for free for iOS and Android.

Source: Kik

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