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Facebook opens bot development on Messenger; are apps irrelevant?

Facebook has opened its Messenger Send/Receive API that supports bot development on its chat platform to all developers, the company announced at the F8 conference. The company had launched the API unannounced to let some developers build bots in Messenger for shopping, booking travel etc. in January, after allowing its users to book an Uber cab from Messenger itself in December. The API can be used to provide various kinds of bots on Messenger, including for weather, traffic updates, shopping receipts, shipping notifications and live automated messages etc., which users can access by interacting with services that provide them. Other than sending and receiving text, the API can also communicate images and ‘bubbles’ containing various calls-to-action. All developers can now access the API and its documentation to build apps, but will still require to get an approval from Facebook before the apps go live. Facebook had acquired Wit.ai in January last year, a startup that creates and API for building voice activated interfaces. Facebook will also offer this API to developers for building bots that can interpret natural language communication. This feature will use machine learning techniques to get better over time. Facebook M: Note that in August, Facebook announced the testing of a new personal assistant service called M, powered by artificial intelligence and supervised by humans. The company claimed the assistant would be able to purchase items, get gifts delivered, book restaurants and travel arrangements, set appointments etc. Rise of the bots: A number of services have been…

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