Robots might be decades away from taking over the world, but they’re now a step closer to officially taking over Messenger. Today’s update, for both iOS and Android, brings tighter integration that offers users new ways to explore, interact and share their favorite bots.
Starting with a new welcome screen for bots and pages, Facebook is now letting you start a thread with a bot (within Messenger) by viewing a welcome screen to provide some context about what exactly it does. Inside are features that allow for better access to business pages as well display options for an associated category and the capabilities provided.
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There are also better tools to share bots and content with your friends. Now, Facebook is enabling “seamless sharing of bots and messages from bots to friends on Messenger.”
We’ll see both the improved sharing tools and the bot welcome page by the end of the week.
Ads got a bit of an overhaul too. Developers and business owners can now use ‘Messenger’ as a destination in Facebook ads. Before, the options included like sending traffic to your Facebook page or your business URL, now you can target Messenger users and send them to a private chat with your bot. Facebook plans to roll this feature out over the next month.
Oh, and then there’s payments. Currently in beta — and only in the United States — the payment platform allows for Messenger users to shop and purchase goods without ever leaving the app. Messages with payments offer “industry-leading” controls and your financial information is always protected with bank-level encryption. Currently, this is only available to developers, but anticipate a broader roll out by the end of the year.
Also in beta — and only available to developers — are features that allow business owners to better customize the way their mobile sites display within the platform. Additional features that simplify the checkout experience and allow for stored payment information (for faster checkout) are also on their way. Facebook didn’t reveal a timeline for when we might see this feature, but did provide a link to apply to the Messenger beta program to start testing it yourself.