Apple has extended its native messenger app iMessage for businesses to communicate with potential users and vice-versa, reports TechCrunch. A user initiates a live chat conversation on ‘Business Chat’ by tapping on the message icon that appears on supported businesses on Maps, Spotlight search, Safari browser, and on Siri. Users can also find businesses using QR codes on iOS11. However, iMessage for businesses is currently in preview mode for developers and users. It’s launch partners included companies like LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance and Genesys. The portal is also accepting new businesses.

iMessage for businesses was quietly rolled out after Apple had announced some major change to iOS and other operating systems during its developer conference last month. The app looks to compete with Facebook’s messenger which already has a similar feature supported by AI-based bots. But what sets iMessage apart from Messenger is its support for Apple Pay and human-to-human interaction. Messenger, on the other hand, has only P2P payments, while iMessage has a native payment integration.

Apart from queries, users can also use the feature to schedule appointments, make purchases, and also an option for businesses to integrate their customised sales ‘experiences’ on iMessage. For e.g. businesses can make a list of items available for purchase based on their current inventory and host this list on iMessage.

Apple isn’t the only one looking to personalize business conversations

Note that several messaging platforms have begun looking for ways to generate some revenue as competitors look to acquire each other’s users. Facebook owned WhatsApp was reportedly testing a feature very similar to that of Apple (without AI or bots). Earlier In November 2016, Viber launched public accounts – an account format for businesses and brands that want to communicate with Viber users for marketing and customer service. A mmonthlater in December, Twitter introduced chatbots for businesses through direct messaging, Online content discovery platform Outbrain launched “Outbrain for Chat,” a service that enables any publisher to launch applications hor content bots across messaging platforms like Telegram, Kik and Slack.