This summer, Yahoo brought its news, weather, and virtual pet services to the Kik messaging app in the form of chatbots. At the time, the company hoped that these bots would help it learn how people might use the services within a conversational setting. A month later, Yahoo is launching them on one of the world’s most widely used communication platforms: Facebook Messenger.
Starting today, you’ll be able to receive Yahoo’s news headlines and weather reports and even take care of a virtual pet monkey — all through Facebook Messenger. What’s more, Yahoo has brought its finance service exclusively to the messaging app.
If you’re not already familiar with the MonkeyPets bot, you can send emojis to a virtual pet and it will share a selfie from its “travels” — think of it as a variation on a Tamagotchi. As for Yahoo Weather, you’ll not only be kept up to date on the temperature outside, you’ll be shown Flickr images that the company promises will “bring the forecast to life.”
The Yahoo News bot does exactly what you’d expect, providing trending stories and interesting articles that you can dive deeper into and allowing you to search for news articles that can be sent to friends through Facebook Messenger.
Lastly, Yahoo Finance is exclusive to Facebook Messenger and will provide stock market updates, trends, financial news, and games to help keep you abreast of what’s going on with your money and let you share that information with whomever you want.
By entering the Facebook bot market, one with more than 11,000 chatbots ready for you to try, Yahoo believes it can increase exposure for several of its more popular services. Yahoo News, Weather, and Finance already receive a decent number of views, and Yahoo’s properties need all the attention they can get right now. Now that Yahoo is on Facebook Messenger, we all have even more choices — we can get weather alerts from Poncho or Yahoo Weather, news from CNN or Yahoo News, and many more.
Although several of Yahoo’s main properties are now available in bot format on two of the most popular messaging apps, it’s worth noting that the company doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to support chatbots on its own conversation app, one that was rebuilt last year to be faster and which was made for the modern communication space. The company wouldn’t say whether bots would be available on Yahoo Messenger in future, but it’s likely that amid all the turmoil going on at the company, the priority is on steps that will have the broadest and most immediate impact. This is why the company is bringing its services to people where they actually are, not where Yahoo wants them to be.
Now that Yahoo has bots on both Kik and Facebook Messenger, we’ll probably soon see them appear in other popular apps, such as WeChat, Line, or even Slack. If there’s enough usage from these bots, Yahoo may be tempted to develop bots around its other services, such as Flickr — unless it gets sold first.