Facebook’s chatbot functionality for Messenger launched over two months ago to great fanfare, and the company is now ready to deliver its first major update for the platform. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the latest on Facebook Messenger, chatbots allow you to access sports scores, order flowers, inquire about flight information or get the latest weather updates (among other things).
Since chatbots were introduced at F8, over 23,000 developers have signed up to use Facebook’s Wit.ai bot engine and over 11,000 bots have been deployed. To help developers and Messenger users get a better grasp of chatbots and to make them easier to interact with, Facebook has added a raft of new functionality.
Users can now give star ratings and feedback for bots, which developers can view in their Dashboard. Quick replies make it much easier for users to interact with bots using up to ten dynamic buttons that can “react” to messages sent by a business. For example, when attempting to purchase a movie ticket, a chatbot might ask you which day you would prefer. Quick reply options could show you Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for example, so that you can fire off a quick response.
Other features include a persistent navigation menu that “eliminates the need for people to remember text commands” and the ability to link a customer’s online account (with a business) to their Messenger account for a more personalized and immersive chat experience. And if that wasn’t enough, chatbots will be able to send you GIFs and video files to help liven up the conversation.
“We’ve also been listening closely to feedback and learning alongside our partners,” writes Facebook’s David Marcus. “We’re looking forward to building a future of amazing Messenger experiences powered by the community of developers, businesses and people who use Messenger every day and can’t wait to hear your feedback.”
We should note that Facebook has also setup a new Messenger blog that will help developers stay connected with all the latest updates for bots on the Messenger platform.