Facebook today announced its Discover tab for finding featured bots and brands will be rolled out to Messenger users in the United States in the coming days. The Discover tab breaks up these conversations into a dozen categories including education, personal finance, news, sports, and shopping.
Located in the bottom right hand corner of the Messenger app, the Discover tab comes with some pretty substantial changes compared to the version first made available in April for a limited number of users. Version 1.1 removes the chat with local businesses feature and the popular bots sections in each category, as well as combines automated and human chat experiences into a single stream. To differentiate between chat with bots and chat with human customer service agents, bots are now labeled “Automated messaging.”
Atop the Discover tab is a dashboard for up to 20 most recently used bots. Below that are featured bots and other categories. Today’s featured bots include Nike for making shoes, the L’Oréal Gift Giver, and the New Yorker Poetry bot.
While the Featured section today includes more bot than human interactions, the change to combine human and bot chat can make it tough to recognize standout bots. In the education section today, for example, only 11 out of 50 chat experiences are actual bots. The Sports category is similarly short on bots, with 12 out of 50 chat experiences being actual bots.
To qualify for inclusion in the Discover tab, bot developers are encouraged to adopt some basic standards, like including “Get Started” among bot menu options. “We have a set of filters and rankings to make sure only the best bots will be shown there,” Messenger engineer Mikhail Larionov told developers in April.
The Discover Tab was introduced as part of a range of solutions to make it easier for people to find bots with the launch of Messenger Platform 2.0 at F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference that took place April 18-19 in San Jose, California.
Messenger Platform 2.0 brought chat extensions that allow developers to launch bots in web view for specific actions, alongside bot suggestions from intelligent assistant M, beginning with Delivery.com. Parametric codes were also introduced at F8 to allow QR codes to lead to specific chat experiences within a bot. Prior to the conference, developers told VentureBeat their number one area of concern was improving bot discovery. More than 100,000 bots have been created since the launch of the Messenger Platform in April 2016.
Google and Microsoft have also taken steps recently to improve bot discovery for their platforms. Last month, Google announced plans to launch an App Store for its voice apps, and a business can now add Skype to its website or deploy bots to Bing search results. Noteworthy bots can also be found in the redesigned Skype app, whose Find section, much like the original Discover tab, highlights local businesses and showcases popular or featured bots.
Finally, fulfilling a vision first shared with VentureBeat last fall, when you search for “news bots” or “entertainment bots” on Bing.com, results now share bots from Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, and Telegram.