Last week we were lamenting that the chatbot revolution faced a big hurdle because it was still too hard to find the most useful ones.
The good news is that the folks behind Botlist are on the case.
Botlist launched in early April, just before Facebook announced it was jumping on the bandwagon by enabling chatbots on its Messenger platform. Botlist calls itself an “App Store for Bots.”
Which, of course, isn’t entirely accurate. Because one of things about bots is that there isn’t necessarily something to download or install or configure. Rather, it’s often just a case of firing off a message to connect to the chatbot.
But to do that, you have to know the chatbot exists. And that’s where Botlist comes in.
In an email interview, Tossell said he saw that individual platforms that were enabling bots were developing their own lists. But the group felt that having a centralized site for users to discover bots would provide a better venue for developers looking to find an audience.
“I saw the Slack App Directory launch, knew other platforms would have their own (and if not, certainly bots) and wanted to build a 3rd party site to showcase them all,” he wrote.
The group decided to follow a format that is familiar to users who are exploring an unfamiliar technology.
“We went with an app store feel because that is what people are used to, and it makes it easy for people to understand the layout and how to check out bots they may find interesting,” he said.
He agreed that for developers, raising awareness and connecting with potential users is one of the biggest initial problems.
“Discoverability is a big issue,” he said. “Bots don’t tend to have designated landing pages either.”
Botlist includes bots for Android, email, Messenger, iPhone, Kik, Slack, SMS, and Telegram. Tossell said he’s excited to see how these platform will push the technology forward now that it’s being aggressively promoted by big names like Google and Facebook.
“I’d like to see the integration of a bot whilst I’m having a text/Facebook conversation with someone,” he said. “We can talk about plans for the evening and directly within the convo I can type ‘@uber’ and book an Uber that way. This use-case would be more streamlined and free-flowing (which is what a bot should be IMO). I don’t particularly want to text a business. a bot should be integrated at the keyboard level, accessible via a command.”
As for Botlist, while he and his partners still have day jobs, Tossell said they’re also trying to think about where to go next.
“There is a lot more to come with bot discovery and this is just the first baby step,” he said. “At the moment, there are a ton of bots being developed and the audiences using the bots are not there yet.”