Bots. Bots. Bots.
AI is taking over! Oh nooooooooo!
Bots are taking over the world. Well, not really. It’s just taking over all your messaging apps. Do you have facebook messenger? Check Facebook M. Do you have Slack? There’s thousands of bots out there for that — you can even order pizza for the office using a bot. Do you have Telegram, Peach, or do you use text?! There’s a bot for all those too. Bots are getting popular but don’t be scared, we’re not going to die… maybe. They’re here to help us have a better life.
So what’s the dealio?
As a mobile developer, it is tough to get your app noticed out of the 1.5 million apps in the apple app store. It must be 10x worse in a place like the Google Play Store where there aren’t any review process available. As a budding entrepreneur who has a million dollar app idea, you’ll spend months on designing the UI, hiring someone to create the backend server processes and then developing the app, only to find yourself in the app store purgatory 5 months after. It sucks right?
The top social media apps right now are messaging apps like WeChat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. The developers innovated and created bots for messaging apps. Creating a bot is way faster than creating a mobile app since all you need is logic and some sentences. Distribution is even better with channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp without having to worry about whether the device is an Android, iPhone or Blackberry.
What are Bots exactly?
Bots have been all around us since the beginning of tech. They are just programs that understand what you’re saying by typing out commands without any user interfaces. Instead of opening your weather app, you can just ask your bot, “What’s the weather today?” and it’ll respond with the weather where ever you are in the world. Sounds neat right? The bot can also understand what you are saying without having to explicitly say your command. You can ask things like, “Do I need to bring an umbrella today?” or “Do I need to wear a jacket?”and it’ll respond specific to the weather. Some bots are even more robust as you can say things like, “I’m going to my best friend’s wedding and I need some gift ideas”. You’ll then get a response of all the Star Wars gadgetry in every e-commerce platform out there, whether it be Amazon, Best Buy, Alibaba or Walmart with the cheapest price. Sweeeeeeet, am I right? Buy me a Darth Vader Helmet for my wedding.
An even more interesting part to this equation is machine learning. The AI will be able to learn your reactions, habits and all the things you buy on a consistent basis and it will preemptively message you even before you have the thought. Talk about efficiency.
Rumour has it that Facebook will be unveiling their Messenger Bot Store in the upcoming F8 conference this April. Why is this a big deal? It opens up their SDK to developers and allow us to build bots on top of the Facebook messenger that has 8 million users. So while you’re chatting up with your bestfriends on Facebook, you can also have your own bot plan out the best time to go for a girls night out and where to go while juggling your calendar, email and buying you toiletries. All done without having to get out of Facebook.
Back to the Future!
No more app drawers, no more switching apps and most of all, no more UI. Empathy is now the new UI and developers need to adapt to win in this new form of market. The future is now!