Facebook Messenger is now open to third party chat bots

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Bots are the next big thing for messaging apps, and Facebook wants to make sure that it’s one of the first companies to implement them. During its annual developers conference on Tuesday, the company announced Bots for Messenger, a new API that will allow third parties to add their own chat bots to Facebook Messenger. There are numerous potential uses for this, but it’s business-to-customer interaction that Facebook is most interested in, and the company already has more than thirty partners taking advantage of this new API.

Facebook’s Messenger bots have finally arrived. Following months of rumors, the company revealed its plan to allow businesses to build bots for Messenger Tuesday at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco. Though the developers in attendance are only just getting a closer look at how these bots will work, Facebook has already been working with a few dozen partners whose bots are now live on Messenger. The easiest way to find bots on Facebook is by searching from within the Messenger app. Simply type a business into the search bar at the top of Messenger. But you can also access bots by scanning a business’ Messenger Code by clicking on a Messenger Link — custom URLs that deep link back to message threads within Messenger. The initial group of partners includes 33 companies, including CNN, Burger King, Bank of America, Staples and Fandango, but we’re likely to see a lot more integrations in the near term as more developers get their hands on the tools. The scope of the current crop of bots for Messenger is fairly broad. You can order flowers (via 1-800-Flowers), get notifications about your bank account (Bank of America), order food (Burger King) and print photos (HP). There are also bots meant to enable communication between businesses — like those from Salesforce and Zendesk — and even a bot for asking health questions (HealthTap).

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