VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks all the important and interesting news related to the exploding field of bots and messaging. And each week we select the top stories and present them in 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 outlets. You can subscribe to our BotBeat newsletter to receive this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

“Welcome to MobileBeat 2016!” declared VentureBeat founder Matt Marshall to open our standing room only event dedicated to bots, messaging, and A.I. On July 12 and 13 the bot community assembled in San Francisco for two days of ideas, inspiration, and news.

The audience represented nearly the entire universe of bots — major platforms like Amazon and Slack, startups like SnapTravel and HealthTap just coming out of stealth mode, investors Accel and Greylock, and established brands like Whole Foods andAirbnb. And, as MobileBeat 2016 shows, the bot universe is ever-expanding.

The potential for voice interfaces like Amazon’s Alexa was in many ways the elephant room. Companies from Google toSoundHound are already competing in this arena, while firms like Airbnb are developing their applications for the platform. Meanwhile, the CTO of Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart said that Amazon’s Alexa wouldn’t work in India, given the market’s myriad languages and the lack of pervasive internet connectivity. Something more ambitious is needed, in his opinion.

Another major theme was the importance of personality for bots. In his keynote, Robert “The Botfather” Hoffer: “If you’re going to make bots today, give them personality. Brands have a soul, and their bots should have a soul, too.”

Esther Crawford talked publicly for the first time about her new company Olabot, which will build personal bots for people so that someday, everyone will have their own bot. She was joined onstage by rapper Redfoo, of LMFAO fame, for whom she built a chatbot.

As evidence of how pervasive bots have already become, Marshall asked Redfoo.”So you’ve had more than a billion views on YouTube. Why are you at a bot conference?”

Leading up to MobileBeat 2016, VentureBeat had sponsored an international botathon with more than 200 teams competing in Melbourne, New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and via an online division. The winner for the judged portion of the botathon was Skoolbot, whose team was led by  a 15 year old from Great Falls, Virginia.

We thank the bot community for helping make MobileBeat 2016 a huge success!

Visit our complete coverage of MobileBeat 2016.

From the VentureBeat Bots Channel

Booking.com launches pilot for destination experiences bot

Booking.com plans to bring artificial intelligence and conversational interfaces to a realm of hospitality that was thought to be the sole domain of humans with local knowledge: destination experiences.
Read the full story

Whole Foods just launched a Messenger chatbot for finding recipes with emojis

Shopping at Whole Foods Market is about to become much more entertaining.
Read the full story

Shopify-owned Kit’s artificial intelligence marketing bot now on Facebook Messenger

Virtual marketing assistant Kit CRM today announced the launch of its chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
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Amazon has reduced Alexa’s mistakes in completing tasks by a factor of 2

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has become better at understanding what people are saying and, by extension, it’s doing a better job of completing the goals or tasks that people are trying to accomplish.
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Dashbot wants to be the Google Analytics of bots

Thousands of chatbots exist in the world today across numerous platforms, but do we really know how well these programs are performing?
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Airbnb says ‘not so fast’ to bots

Joe Zadeh, vice president of product at Airbnb, stated that only humans — in this case, Airbnb hosts — can provide authentic hospitality and help foster the emotional relationship to a new place that travelers often seek.
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Flipkart CTO: Amazon’s Alexa wouldn’t work in India

“The problems that we see over here [in the U.S.] are not what we see in India,” said Ranjan. “The real challenge we’re going to have to solve is bigger than Alexa.”
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Beyond BotBeat

Airbnb wants to make bots to cash in on all the stuff you do while you travel

As more smart things creep into homes, Airbnb, which makes money as a go-between for people renting their homes, wants to ensure it’s in the fray.
Read the full story

Editor’s Pick: The Best of Bots at #MobileBeat2016

#MobileBeat2016, the first major industry event dedicated to exploring chatbots and artificial intelligence, witnessed a flourishing of chatbot innovations in industries from grocery stores and travel booking to fast food, e-commerce and personal finance.
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SnapTravel Is the Best New Way to Get a Hotel Deal

Facebook Messenger isn’t the first place you think of for hotel deals, but that’s about to change.
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