The highlight this week is the new update to Facebook Messenger Bot API. A step towards an app-like experience with persistent menus, quick text replies for any type of message, full media support and also a way to provide feedback to bot makers.
Another update, that didn’t get so much attention, is the new airline-specific templates: check-in, boarding passes, flight updates and itineraries. Only a 0.1% of bot developers will make use of these templates, but you can already see where this is going.
All this has kept me and my team pretty busy these days :). We were planning a big release already (highlight: deep Zendesk integration), plus we added support for these new features too.
Also, Meekan bot was acquired. Kudos to the team. It was one of the first bots we covered in the newsletter back in January.
Chris Messina created a personal bot, and he shares the lessons learned about the office hours feature, that allows you to book some time with him to chat about bots. Good insights about what went wrong in his approach.
Main insights: they found that users need clarity about when they are speaking to a bot or to a human. They attracted a few tens of thousands users, most of the being millennials and new users. It took them three months to develop the bot. The user experience is quite linear, which seems to fit quite well this simple use case.
I just discovered “The Morning Paper”. They publish a review of a CS-related paper every weekday. And the future ones are going to be around the space of chatbots, covering deeply some technical papers around the underlying technology. This post is an introduction to this series.
An interesting piece about the concept of small improvements after analysing your users, to provide some degree of intelligence. The post doesn’t go into specific examples, but applications for bots are definitely powerful to personalize the experience based on past usage. I’d like to share an example that doesn’t require much advanced AI: if your user didn’t engage in any of the last 10 push notifications, try something different for him/her. (I am looking at you, CNNBot.)
A story that shows how important WhatsApp is in Africa. As Benedict Evans pointed out back in April, WhatsApp has about 2x the message volume of Facebook Messenger. The volume of WhatsApp is insane, and I am really curious about their next steps. Just as a reminder: the penetration of WhatsApp in the US is very low compared to other countries, where it has become the de facto communication vehicle for virtually anyone with a smartphone.
Talks and community building about bots. For developers, entrepreneurs and technologists to learn about the how’s and the why’s. We’re giving a FREE ticket for the conference. Ping me to participate: we’ll select a participant randomly on July 17th.
This is the first-ever international Botathon. Applications are still open until Friday, so, if you have a bot or would like to build one over the weekend, send them an application! The finalist teams will present in VentureBeat’s MobileBeat event. My co-founder (and brother!) Pablo will be a judge for the event.