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Facebook adds quick replies, menus and GIF support to the Messenger chatbot platform

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Since the launch of the Messenger Chatbot API at the F8 Developer Conference last month, over 23k developers have signed up and launched over 11k chatbots on the platform. And today, Facebook is introducing a slew of new ways to help you have an interactive conversation with a bot.

The dawn of the chatbot era has only added to the problems and frustrations of the users. They seem to be lost when talking to a bot, as they’re unaware of what command to send to trigger a particular function. And if you send a wrong command and receive an unexpected reply, then it only adds to raging anger and second-grade experience.

But, the updates announced today brings with it certain functionalities that will make it easier for developers to design and deploy a user-friendly bot. The developers now have the option to add ‘quick replies’ to help you input the right command, and a fixed menu to make certain options available to you at all times.

Updated Features

Let’s take a look at all the new features have been added to expand the functionality of the Messenger platform.

facebook-messenger-menu

  • Quick Replies: This will provide a more guided experience for us – users when we interact with a bot. The developers will now have an option to include (at the bottom of the message space) about 10 dynamic buttons to match the recently sent reply. Thus, you don’t need to fret about a random reply from the bot.
  • Persistent Menu: Think of this as a hamburger ‘menu’ or ‘settings’ option that is available in an app or website. This will no longer require you to remember any text commands, you can just tap on the menu icon in the message composer to reveal five custom actions. This will help users restart a process if they took the wrong turn.
  • Rich-media content: Now developers can get their message across to you using a variety of content types, including GIFs, audio, video or even documents. So, don’t be amazed if your favorite brand sends you a cat GIF tomorrow. Also, the audio and video files support native playing right in the messenger window.
  • Feedback & Ratings: Facebook has learnt a lot since the launch of the messenger platform, but how? Yes, Feedback from developers and users! And now, they’re extending the same functionality to the chatbots. You can now provide a star rating and leave feedback about the bot for the developers.
  • Enhanced Control: Is there a bot that sends you updates and spams your messenger after every couple hours or so? If yes, then the ‘mute a bot’ feature being introduced in this update will be very helpful for you.
  • Account Linking: The Messenger platform is aimed at helping businesses develop better relations with their customers. To deliver a more personal experience, it is enabling users connect their business accounts over a secure protocol within Messenger itself. And you have the choice to opt-in to experience this feature.

The developers now have more options to expand the services offered by their chatbots. It is making the platform more responsive and intuitive by making the experience more hybrid. We hope that the use of buttons and quick replies will make the bots actually usable. But, the chatbot analytics and back-end platform that was promised to be in the works hasn’t been released in this update.

In addition to this, Facebook is planning to take lead of the chatbot revolution by improving on an already expanded platform that is in sync with its core offering. But to help businesses and developers discover and find changes coming to the platform in the near future, the company is debuting a dedicated blog for the same.

So, developers if you want to attract more users, you should definitely consider integrating the new features into your bots. Happy Botting!


A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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