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Facebook makes a big bet on chat bots

In San Fransico Facebook officially introduced it’s chatbot API for Messenger, which is named Messenger Platform. Additionally, Facebook’s Live Chat feature is launching today via an API. The Messenger Platform primary goal is to replace the 1-800 number for chat bots which will give you better options and allow you to order flowers, pizza, or a hotel.

The bots also extend beyond ordering flowers or pizza. You’re able to chat with the CNN bot by asking “what’s going on around the world today,” and you’ll get a card with the top global news. The Messenger Platform also includes a Live Chat function where users will start a chat on the web and be redirected to Messenger. From there they’ll get to start a bot or a human, or maybe a mix of both.

Chat Bots are everywhere

Microsoft is working on similar features, but with Cortana as the primary assistant. Microsoft is building their chat bots into Skype where folks can also book hotels, or ask for the weather, or ask for directions. Microsoft is using Cortana as a broker for the conversations, and Facebook is letting everyone talk directly with individual chat bots. Either way, 2016 is the year of the chat bot. The technology world has dropped everything and pivoted towards chat bots and personal assistants.

The chat bot isn’t a bad idea in the long run. We’ve talked to bots on the phones for years, and now we’re going to talk to them via typing. The bots are getting smarter and understanding the context of our daily lives. If we’re regularly staying at the Marriot and hold a Marriot rewards card, the chat bot will book a hotel at the Marriot when we ask to book a hotel from June 5 to 8th.

Who’s doing chat bots?

Beyond Facebook and Microsoft other startups are working to build chatbots into their services, and Slack includes a chat bot that helps makes our slack experience better. Amazon, Apple, and Google are not working on chat bots. Instead, they’re focusing their efforts towards voice controlled assistants who are useful, powerful, and easy to talk to. While Amazon has a significant lead already, the other companies could make their powerful voices assistants relevant again. Google and Apple both have them pre-installed on millions of phones, and a voice assistant that’s easier to talk to could become popular very quickly.

The three voice assistants could easily be transformed into chat bots, like Microsoft did with Cortana. I’m not sure what’s holding them back from doing this, or if they believed everyone wanted to yell “Hey Siri” or “Okay Google” to have to talk to their phone. A chat bot is easier to use, and you can use it even if you’re in a loud environment.


Voice assistants are being phased out for chat bots, except Alexa from Amazon. The Echo has carved out a place in the home where she controls the smart home, plays music, and is extremely helpful in the kitchen. The chat bots are aiming to automate our lives and even replace 1-800 numbers. Comcast could use Chatbots over having everyone call into a number where they’ll wait hours to talk to someone to cancel service, add TV channels, or get help with an outage.

We may phase out businesses phone numbers all together through by chatting to make a reservation and if the bot is stuck it redirect it to a human who’ll answer the question over chat. The future may include a lot less voice chatting and more texting to one another. If that’s going to save us time and pain, I’m all in for the 2016 chat bot revolution.  I believe these chat bots will take over and slowly kill off phone numbers for businesses, making Facebook Messenger the de facto messaging platform.

Tell us in the comments below if you’re going to use Chat Bots over a phone number. Also, tell us if you prefer chatting with a bot or talking to a human on the phone.