VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks the most important news and analysis from the exploding field of bots and messaging. Each week, we select the top stories and present them in our free weekly newsletter, BotBeat. We include news stories by VentureBeat staff, guest articles from leading figures in the bots community, and a good number of posts from a wide variety of other outlets. You can subscribe to our BotBeat newsletter to receive this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

If you’re making a bot, even if you put it on some of the largest platforms in the world, there’s no guarantee it will be a hit. The emerging bot ecosystem has, as investor Phil Libin put it, a long tail of crap.

There are, however, things you can do to help ensure your first bot is a success (watch those push notifications), and to make your bot addictive (iterate!).

More good news for bot builders: Botkit announced a Cisco Spark integration Wednesday, giving the makers of Slack bots the option to make more bots for the workplace.

But there’s more than one way to skin a chat. Google Assistant was made not just with AI smarts but also with heart, empathy, and some wisecracks. In fact, there’s an entire team devoted to the creation of Google Assistant’s personality, and it’s led by Google’s chief doodler. Those sketches are directly correlated to Google Assistant’s personality, said Ryan Germick, who has his own tips for how to give a bot not just personality but empathy.

As always, please send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Be sure to visit our Bots Channel for comprehensive news on bots and messaging.

Thanks for reading,

— Khari Johnson
Bots reporter

P.S. Please enjoy this video discussion about productivity bots for the enterprise environment with Dan Tomaschko of Coach Otto, Ellen Choi of CareerLark, and Artyom Keydunov of Statsbot, with Steve Pepe of General Electric as moderator.

VB News

Robots aren’t automating the jobs we want them to

We’ve heard many predictions of how robots will take over the monotonous functions of our daily lives, freeing us to work on highly skilled or creative tasks. But in fact the opposite may be happening: Some of the easiest tasks to automate turn out to be…

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How Google’s chief doodler is shaping Google Assistant’s personality

Google Assistant can schedule appointments, control your home, and tell you why the sky is blue, but thanks to a small band of creative types — its personality team — it can also be a game show host, a fortune teller, or a sports fan. The personality team behind Google Assistant decides…

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How to make sure your first bot doesn’t make a belly flop

All hail the hype cycle — 2016 was nothing but acceleration for the burgeoning bot economy. We experienced Gartner’s “innovation trigger” and reached the “peak of inflated expectations” in under 10 months. Congratulations, everyone! Now comes the sobering reality that customers — actual, living, breathing customers — need…

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Google Home now has air quality updates and (almost) breaking news from CNN

A series of new conversation actions have been added for Google Home users to play with, ranging from info about the cafeteria at Carnegie Mellon University to CNN and air quality updates from around the world. Roughly 10 new services from third-party creators were added to Google Assistant in the past week. More than 80 actions have…

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10 tricks that will make your Facebook Messenger bot addictive

How do you re-engage with users? Our bot, called Epytom, strips away the daily headache of having to choose what to wear. Through micro-learning, you gradually take your style to the next level; next thing you know, the amount of attention and compliments you get double. Epytom is geared toward casual, everyday use. Our third-week retention is 57 percent. We didn’t get here through some magic formula. Instead, we tested rigorously. Today, I’d like to share…

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Beyond VB

Amazon and Google Consider Turning Smart Speakers Into Home Phones (via WSJ)

Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are considering a new use for their popular home speakers: becoming the home phone. Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home could be used to make or receive calls, people familiar with the matter said, a functionality that would give them…

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Intelligent Messaging: Making Bots Personal (via AdAge)

In 2017, the biggest gap in the chatbot market will continue to be perfecting consumer experience. Growth of the overall chatbot sector is entirely dependent upon a consumer’s desire to engage with these services. A good chatbot adds value to the consumer’s life while only showing up when the consumer wants it to. In 2016, major brands powered millions of chatbot sessions. Looking back, it’s clear…

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There are a dozen ways to order a coffee. Why do dumb bots only allow one? (via Medium by Shane Mac)

If bots are going to live up to their hype, we have to move beyond the fixed decision trees and pre-defined scripts. Last week, Mikhail Larionov from Facebook wrote a post about decision trees vs web views. He argues that web views are better than using a bunch of decision trees. We agree if you…

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Can virtual assistants help you say ‘A.I. love you’? (via Medium by Sean Nolan)

If you’ve left sorting Valentine’s Day to the last minute, help could be, quite literally, at hand. Why not fire up a personal digital assistant on your phone to do your romantic bidding? Let’s say you’re going traditional — a nice bunch of flowers for your heart’s desire. Just how much of that task can digital assistants take care of? We put the main players through their paces — Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana…

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