Facebook became the latest high-profile convert to the bots cause, announcing bot support for its Messenger platform.

The company follows Microsoft, which talked up the potential of bots at its recent Build developer event, while messaging apps Kik and Telegram are also embracing the technology.

Facebook Messenger, which has more than 900 million monthly users, said bots can provide automated content such as weather and traffic updates, receipts and shipping notifications, “interacting directly with the people who want to get them”.

“All developers and businesses will have access to documents to build bots for Messenger, and submit them for review. We will gradually accept and approve submissions to ensure the best experiences for everyone on Messenger,” Facebook said.

A Messenger Send/Receive API will support the delivery of text, images, and “interactive rich bubbles” containing multiple calls to action.

And the social media giant also said the availability of Wit.ai’s Bot Engine will enable developers to build more complex bots that can interpret intent from natural language, and continuously learn to get better over time.

Facebook also said it wants to facilitate messages from businesses that provide meaningful value to users, who will be able to block communications they don’t want to receive.

“There are also strict policies for developers and businesses to uphold and we will have review processes to ensure we carefully evaluate how our community is responding,” it said.

Enterprise customer engagement platform Sparkcentral said it is one of the first partners to integrate directly with the Messenger platform for customer care, and claims it has “a major national airline and a global ride-hailing service already working on deploying this channel integration”.

“Sparkcentral is one of the first social customer service platforms to integrate directly with the Messenger platform, pulling all historic, threaded Messenger-based customer communications into the into Sparkcentral environment so care agents have the context they need, the moment they need it,” it said in a statement.

Facebook also unveiled other Messenger updates this week.

Telegram updates bots platform
Meanwhile, Messenger (and WhatsApp) rival Telegram, updated its bots platform, launched last year, with inline bots that can send all types of attachments, including documents, MP3s, videos, stickers, animations and contacts.

Telegram built sample bots which include @music, @youtube, @foursquare and @sticker.

@foursquare, for instance, helps users send addresses of places and venues nearby.

“These sample bots are but the beginning. Our Bot API 2.0 allows developers to create fluid and easy-to-use interfaces for powerful bots. And we will be seeing a lot of new ones in the coming months, after all, 2016 is the year of bots,” the company said.