Here come the Breaking News bots!

Slack, Messenger, Microsoft Office 365

Chat has become one of the most popular ways people communicate, both at work and at play. So we’ve been experimenting with ways to join the conversation with ominous-sounding things called “bots.”

It started back in September when we were one of the first brands to launch a Slack app, piping our major story alerts into chat channels. Today we’ve upgraded the app and turned it into a bot that responds to your commands:

/breakingnews follow Tesla

The Breaking News bot dutifully responds:

Following Tesla Motors

Similar to our Breaking News app, now whenever there’s breaking news about Tesla Motors, you’ll receive a notification in Slack:

Notice the alert links the original source. Breaking News is the only news organization that points you straight to the source, and we’re continuing that tradition in Slack. We’re also fast: an internal survey found that our alerts are 14 minutes faster on average than the next-fastest news brand.

Now, if you’re growing weary of Tesla, you can easily unfollow it:

/breakingnews unfollow Tesla

And if you’ve forgotten what you’re following, just ask:

/breakingnews following

And it will display the list. You can follow a wide range of topics like cybersecurity, Apple, Seattle, Panama Papers, driverless cars, markets, Stanford University… we have over 90,000 available topics available. To help you navigate them all, you can search, too:

/breakingnews search Seattle

That will display every topic or story containing the word Seattle, like the Seattle Seahawks.

To add Breaking News to your favorite Slack channel, go to our apps page and click “Add to Slack.” (If you already have the Breaking News app in Slack, you’ll need to re-add it.) Try following your company, your industry and the city where you’re based. Put that bot to work.

At Facebook’s F8 event later this week, the social network is expected to announce that developers can make their own Messenger chat bots.

That will be music to our ears at Breaking News, because our platform is wired for spinning up bots that do useful tasks. For example, beyond topics, we can also match stories to people based on locations. More on this in the weeks to come.

Last week Microsoft announced Office 365 Connectors, an easy way to bring real-time information into your Office 365 Groups. Breaking News is one of the first Connectors available, which means you can get our major story alerts right where you work.

To get connected, head on over to our apps page and click “Connect with Office 365.”

We believe bots have tremendous potential to connect people with the news that uniquely matters to each and every one of us. In many ways, bots are similar to our innovative work with push notifications: they’re quick, short and highly relevant. They’re designed to save you time.

As bots become more conversational and contextual, news will become much more helpful. More human even.

Until then, enjoy our first experiments in the world of bots, and please feel free to send us ideas and feedback.

(Post by Cory Bergman)