Facebook announced at its F8 developer conference in San Francisco on Tuesday that Messenger will now feature chatbots in the app that will communicate with users to provide customer service, content and interactive experiences.

That's right, Facebook Messenger is the latest platform to integrate the artificial intelligence in its app, but we can't say that we didn't see this announcement coming. Reports have surfaced over the past few days that the company would be announcing the bots during the conference. Rightfully so, as Messenger continues to compete against related apps like Kik and Line, which already use the AI.

Chatbots are virtual agents that are powered by artificial intelligence that can communicate with users to help them with tasks such as booking a hotel room or online shopping, and provide information. The idea is that they can ultimately replace 1-800 numbers and be a direct way to communicate with a company without getting the runaround.

Since Facebook says that more than 50 million companies use its social network, with one billion business messages sent each month, it only makes sense that it would finally add bots to Messenger.

"We're excited to introduce bots for the Messenger Platform," David Marcus, Facebook's VP of Messaging Products, said. "Bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them."

Facebook is launching bots for the Messenger Platform with companies like Spring, Poncho, CNN and more.

For example, you are chatting with a friend on Messenger and just found out they are having a bad day. The user can then message the 1-800 Flowers bot to get suggestions and place an order without having to download a separate app, go to the website, call or even enter in their credit card information (if that info is already in the Facebook app). This is all done in Messenger.

Users will be able to start a conversation with the Spring bot to help them find a price on an item they want from the retailer, or options that would go with a particular item. This makes it feel like the user it talking to a personal stylist or friend while they are shopping.

Or they can ask the CNN bot about a brief overview about a particular article they are curious about when they don't have the time to read it in full.

Users will also have the ability to block a bot if they no longer want to communicate with it.

Facebook also announced that, starting today, developers and businesses are able to create their own conversational bots. The company will provide them with the documents to build their bots for Messenger, which must first be approved before they enter the platform.

Now that Facebook has made this announcement, there is no denying that chatbots are taking over apps. Microsoft launched its AI chatbot Tay, which was a disaster after the Internet turned on her, but the company still wants bots everywhere.

Far better examples of these bots really working include those in apps like Line and Skype. Slack's latest bot in beta from Taco Bell allows users to place an order for pick-up from the app. Telegram just released a whole bunch of bots for music, stickers and YouTube, and Kik just opened its own bot shop with companies like Sephora and Vine using the AI.


Source: Facebook

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