Microsoft has made a couple of exciting announcements today, with regards to Skype. The company has revealed that soon Skype conversations will play host to bots. These AI powered bots will be now be able to join calls, both one on one, or in groups as well. This will apply to both audio and video calls.
Announcing the news, Skype said:
This year at Microsoft Build 2017, we are thrilled to take things even further, evolving Skype as a platform for bots to a fully extensible and open platform for developers to integrate their technologies in order to build great conversational experiences.
So now, Bot builders will be able to use the BotBuilder RealTimeMediaCalling extension on Github, bringing Skype bots into real conversations. The extension is currently in preview on Github. Skype has also said that it will be releasing a software development kit for the creation of interactive video bots as well.
We are already familiar with chat bots and their capabilities. However, it is the video bots that are the most interesting. These bots would actually be present on your screens as avatars and would be able to do a whole host of things. Say you want a bot that could interview people — well, instead of a voice you could now have an avatar conducting the interview.
Skype has also unveiled Add-ins, a new feature which will make it easier for developers to integrate their applications into 1:1 and group conversations. With add-ins, devs will be able to provide their consumers with pretty unique ways of bringing experiences into their Skype conversations without leaving the app. We will have more information on add-ins later, once we try iy out for ourselves. For now, the only way to test it is to download the preview app from the Android app store.
The service has also announced that users will now be able to embed their chats within websites. This could be of a great help to businesses looking for a chat client on their websites and they would now be able to use Skype to cater to their clients and customers. Considering that Skype is pretty popular and a lot of people already have their accounts logged in, this could serve to make customer service even more seamless.
The company has also announced that it is making it easier for customers to make purchases from within bots.
Now, as a developer, you can easily enable payments in your bot through the Microsoft Bot Framework, allowing consumers to make purchases directly in a Skype Bot chat, with the security of Microsoft Checkout, giving consumers the power to purchase directly through a bot without switching apps.