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Facebook is Bringing Extensions and Bot Discovery to Messenger

At its F8 conference today in San Diego, Facebook announced some new features that are beginning to roll out to their Messenger platform. The headline features happen to be chat extensions and a new discovery tab.

Starting with the former, chat extensions allow users to add additional functionality while within chats. Facebook is continuing to rely on bots for this feature which they said were the future last year and never really saw a leap in popularity like the company had hoped. Nevertheless, such extensions available for use at launch will be ones brought to you by Spotify, TheScore, OpenTable, Food Network, NBA, Wall Street Journal and Kayak. Facebook says more will be added in the future, even an Apple Music bot.

Regarding the latter, Facebook is also rolling out a new discovery page that’ll allow users to “find the businesses they care about.” It’s essentially Yellow Pages but on your smartphone, delivered by Facebook, and built for bots. You can search for bots, view trending bots, and tap open recently used bots. Facebook wants you to use bots. That’s why there’s a dedicated page to them in Messenger.

Here’s how Facebook puts it.

We wanted to find a way to make it easy and simple for people to find the businesses they care about in Messenger. We’ve built a Discover tab, and starting to roll out to a few people in the US today, right from the home screen, people can find their recently used bots, popular experiences and a free-form search field. Developers can learn more about how to apply to have their bot included in this curated tab by going here.

Facebook is also expanding Messenger’s use of their M AI-backed assistant.

M, our virtual assistant, now makes suggestions in your conversations, offering up ways to make your life simpler. These include fun stickers to say “thank you,” a reminder to meet up with a friend, or an easy way to pay someone back or get paid via peer-to-peer payments. Powered by artificial intelligence, M recognizes when people are doing specific tasks and provides helpful suggestions. We think the next step is to offer people more ways to do more – so today M can now offer the ability to order food through delivery.com. If you’re chatting with friends about what to grab for dinner, M may suggest placing an order. The whole experience can be completed in Messenger, including group ordering and payment. The more you use M, the more it will make relevant suggestions to you. This is available in the US where delivery.com serves.

Finally, Facebook is adding more immersive gaming experiences to Messenger. There’s also a dedicated button at the bottom of the app so you know they exist.

With over 1.5 billion games played in just the last 90 days, now we are adding some additional product features like game bots and Rich Gameplay (turn-by-turn games) to make your gaming even more fun. And it’s now even easier to challenge your friends to a game in Messenger by tapping the Games tab on the Messenger home screen – which is starting to roll out today to some people in the US.

These changes and more should start rolling out to all users of Messenger today.


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Max Buondonno is a technology enthusiast who has been working as a journalist in this industry for more than two years. He has grown up in the age where everyone has a smartphone which has influenced his decision to become a professional technology writer, his passion in life. He's dipped his toes in the development of websites, while you can ask him anything about Apple, Google, or Microsoft and he's bound to give you an answer. He's reachable on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and email.

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