Posted on April 7, 2016 by staff

Kik messaging app users can now chat with brand bots


Messaging app Kik has launched chatbots which allows companies and media outlets to talk to users via artificial intelligence.

The ‘Bot Shop’ has appeared in the ‘find people’ menu and takes users to a list of entertainment and lifestyle brands they can connect with.

These will then send through information, links and entertainment, including shopping preferences, in back-and-forth exchanges which are mostly conducted via a multiple choice system.

The Weather Channel, for example, sends out daily weather alerts for your local area after requesting a postcode.

H&M narrows down your tastes by asking you to choose from modelled outfits while entertainment medium Funny or Die asks you to rate a succession of comedy videos and pictures in the same way as its website – ‘funny’ or ‘die’.

Kik’s head of messaging services Mark Roberts told AdWeek: “Messengers are the new browser and bots are the new websites.

“I think bots will help apps evolve.

“I use things like Photoshop to do art and Premier to do video editing, and I don’t think I’ll ever move those experiences onto the phone in my pocket.

“Likewise, I think there are classes of experiences in apps today that are better suited for bots. There is no need for 100 apps on my home screen.”

In much the same way that Twitter filters news to your taste, the ‘Bot Shop’ allows for a semi-autonomous consumption of information and entertainment or shopping experience.

Bots were described as “the new apps” earlier this month by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

He told the company’s Build developer conference in San Francisco that they could soon revolutionise how companies interact with customers.

The Microsoft Bot Framework, which at present consists of half a dozen tools to help coders create bots, allows businesses to integrate them into their existing apps.

Facebook is expected to follow its lead in creating a chatbot store.

Kik allows developers to build specific bots for its app but will vet them for quality – a wise move after the controversy surrounding Tay, a Microsoft bot which publicly learned how to interact with the public on Twitter.

Tay was quickly taken off the social network after it was targeted by trolls and began to mimic racist and sexist opinions.