Encrypted messaging app Telegram today announced the release of inline bots, a new approach to using bots inside the app. With this latest update for iOS, Android, and desktop versions of Telegram, users can make bots do things like send off a GIF from Giphy within a chat, even if the bot wasn’t previously added to the chat.
“With the new inline mode, bots become omnipresent and can be used as a tool in any of your chats, groups or channels — it doesn’t matter, whether the bot is a member or not,” the Telegram team wrote in a blog post on the news.
To demonstrate the potential of this feature, Telegram has put together several bots that tap existing application programming interfaces (APIs) to bring in content from third-party services. There are bots for IMDb, Bing Image Search, Yandex Image Search, YouTube, Giphy, and Wikipedia. There’s also a new markdown bot for making your text bold, italicized, or set in monowidth fonts.
This builds on Telegram’s work last year that made it possible to play content from YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud within chats.
The inline bots should make Telegram a bit more fun for beginners to use. And the move also shows Telegram getting more aggressive in the area of bots, which team communication startup Slack has doubled down on with the launch of Botkit to enable third-party apps in Slack.
The news is also interesting because Google last month was reported to be working on a mobile messaging service that uses bots to communicate with people.
Telegram was delivering more than 12 billion messages a day, the company reported, as of September.
Documentation for the new inline bots is here.