Why it matters to you
Bots, the AI-powered companions that supply reminders and recommendations, are the future of mobile interactions. That was the takeaway from Facebook’s F8 developer keynote on Tuesday, where the social network pulled back the curtains on an overhauled Messenger platform: Messenger 2.0.
As if on cue, Facebook’s partners announced new bots that take advantage of the new Messenger’s features. There are far too many to list, but we’ve rounded up a few of the best so far.
Spotify announced a Messenger app at F8, and it, as you might expect, plays tunes on demand. Thanks to support for Chat Extensions, a new Messenger feature that lets bots join group sessions, you can invoke Spotify in chats with friends — tapping the “plus” button in Messenger, choosing Spotify from the list, and entering the name of a song brings up playback controls. You’ll hear a preview of the song if you aren’t a Spotify user, and if you are, you can listen to the whole thing.
Mexcico City-based airline Aeromexico has unveiled a new Messenger customer service bot. By tapping artificial intelligence platform IV.AI and chat developer YaloChat.com, Aeormexico said it’s able to cut customer service resolution time from 16 minutes down to 2 minutes — all while juggling flight statuses, ticket purchases, and group bookings. It’s even smart enough to serve up vacation destination recommendations.
If you’re itching to channel your inner internet calligrapher, check out ScribbleChat. The new Messenger bot integrates handwriting and, thanks to native Chat Extensions integration, lets you share your digital chicken scratch among friends. You can send handwritten text, emojis, and interactive animations via Messenger, or tap ScribbleChat’s library of graphics and animations.
There’s a new way to pay for food online, and it’s Mastercard’s Messenger app. The payments processor has teamed up with Subway to handle online ordering. It’s simple enough: The bot searches users’ locations to find the closest of Subway’s 26,500 restaurants for pickup, and lets you choose from different options for sandwiches, salads, sides, and drinks.
Facebook Messenger bots run the gamut, and there’s no better example than Rue21’s “virtual stylist.” On Tuesday, the apparel retailer launched a Messenger “artist” that taps AI to deliver an
interactive shopping experience.” You browse the retailer’s virtual aisles by yourself or in a group, and select from apparel of various sizes, colors, and prices.
If you need to cover lunch or lend a friend some spending money, the Western Union Messenger bot has your back. The payments giant announced a Facebook Messenger tool that transfers money to “almost anywhere in the world” — 200 countries and territories across 130 currencies. Messenger users in the U.S. can look up real-time foreign exchange rates and get automated customer support.