April 17, 2016
Facebook Messenger as a platform already has a ton of interesting hooks. They announced some additions recently, like being able to get an Uber and send Spotify songs from inside the app.
This week, Facebook announced their long-awaited Messenger platform. This is going to open up Messenger to bots and communication with businesses and other different aspects of the platform.
Along with their announcement today, Facebook introduced three new bots available today to start playing with. CNN, Spring, and Poncho are available for all users today. Facebook said they are going to start to approve bots slowly during the beta phase.
I feel like other than a to-do list, a weather application is always a default go to. Poncho is a charming little weather app that features a cat wearing a poncho. There is an iPhone app for Poncho and even Slack already set up.
Poncho has some cute and charming responses and I was able to even get it to send me a picture of horses running through some water.
I was able to set weather notifications for every weekday for 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. I like the idea of having the weather notification sent to me. Usually, for all my weather needs, I rely on Google Now and IFTTT recipes to warn me about coming rain and snow. The app was nice enough, but I don’t know if this will save me any time down the road.
Before today, I had no idea what Spring was or what type of merchants they dealt with.
The interactions where easy enough and I was prompted to answer a few simple questions. I was then shown inexpensive watches very quickly. I think the thing that was most frustrating about the experience was that to read more, I was taken off Messenger and brought onto the Spring website. I understand Spring wants to get that traffic, but being on a phone, I would like to see if Facebook’s instant article technology could be deployed there. It just felt like it was more moving the search results inside a chat window more than helping me speed up workflow. There is a lot of promise with this one but, I also feel like something is missing.
This might be something on the merchant level, but I feel like payments is another thing that is missing the mark here. Payment is a problem that everyone wants to get their hands on. If messenger becomes a platform that could facilitate that, it could make the experience a lot easier.
This is one that I felt could have been a really interesting iteration, but it was just messy at times. I was able to read top stories and then I was able to get a few stories related to a specific topic.
It just felt like it was limited. Maybe if it wasn’t limited to one content partner, it could bring some more value.
I also think that it should take a page from the weather app. I would love to get “Morning Digest” that gives me the top five stories from a certain topic. I think that would be a nice way to consume media.
This is an aspect that will explode. If you have a chat bot, you are going to have some sort of Bot API. Telegram and Kik just released updates this week. I am really interested in the update that Telegram just put out. I think that is something that is getting close to nailing it right. There are also some online bots by using keywords like @music.
I am excited by what developers are going to make with these platforms. I haven’t seen anything just yet that is something to get excited about, but it is early and the bots will get more engaging and richer, and will hopefully be able to complete tasks that will make our lives easier.
Written by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter