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Facebook Messenger might soon have an army of bots

And you'll be able to use them to buy goods and services in-app.

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Facebook has given select developers access to a secret SDK for Messenger, according to TechCrunch, one that they can use to build bots for the app. We're not talking about spambots or those AI chatbots you talk to when you're lonely -- we're talking about bot accounts you can send messages to in order to make purchases or to ask for info and directions.

The best example that exists at the moment is Uber's Messenger integration announced back in December. As you can see in the video below, ordering a ride is as easy as tapping on an address or on the car icon within the chat app. Facebook Product Manager Seth Rosenberg apparently told TechCrunch before the product was revealed that the company's "getting people used to the idea that you can message more than just people on Messenger." In the future, e-retailers could add Buy Buttons and other service providers could devise one-tap methods, as well.

As the publication points out, Facebook might be giving third-party developers access to the Chat SDK in an effort to make Messenger more like its Asian counterparts. WeChat and Line users, for instance, can contact official accounts to buy movie tickets and even to pay bills. By making the chat app a lot more useful, Facebook's likely hoping to turn more people into loyal users.

Uber on Messenger

As we shared earlier this year at F8 (our developer conference) we're building ways for you to interact with the businesses and services you care about right from Messenger. We believe that by doing so, we can provide more convenience and utility for both people and businesses.With group chats, Messenger is the best place to make plans with friends and family — 700 million of you do this worldwide. But why stop there? Plans are only as good as the follow-through. So I'm very excited to announce the launch of our transportation platform — to get you where you need to go faster, with your friends. This new capability will enable you to request a ride, receive updates on your driver's status, and notify your friends without ever leaving Messenger and your conversations.I'm also thrilled to launch this new experience with Uber. And to celebrate this moment together, you will get a free ride (up to $20 value) for a limited time. All you have to do is link your existing Uber account or setup a new one within Messenger and request a ride.To get started as of this afternoon, make sure you have the latest version of Messenger. Then, from within a conversation, tap the more menu (...) and choose Transportation. You can also search directly for Uber from the Inbox and tap the car icon in the composer to request a ride.As always, please try this new experience, enjoy your free ride, and let us know how we can make it even better for you!

Posted by David Marcus on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

[Image credit: Gustavo Vargas/Flickr]

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