It seems like just yesterday our super seven delegates from Master of Code jet set to the Golden State of California for Facebook’s annual Developer Conference, F8. It was a jampacked 2 days of learning with some surprises but we’ve taken the liberty of sharing the best bits of the conference, including the very exciting updates for Messenger.
The New Stuff
Facebook announced that there are now more than 300,000 active bots on the Messenger Platform, with 8 Billion messages exchanged between bots and users each month. The update we were most excited about at F8 was Facebook’s announcement of opening their platform for developers to add interactive Augmented Reality (AR) camera effects right inside the Messenger bot experience. This will blend AR and messaging capabilities which will allow for much more interactive, real-world experiences. Imagine trying on a product before you buy it, simply by using the camera on your phone. Facebook also announced hand recognition for their AR studio, so it won’t be long before you’re holding products in your hand or trying them on your wrist. This also allows you to share the AR effects in other Messenger conversations with your friends or family, allowing them to give valuable instant feedback about your proposed purchase, customizations and more.
Creating an AR experience for your customers has never been easier. Facebook announced they have worked tirelessly to create easy-to-use and accessible tools in their AR platform. Features include better Hand Tracking as mentioned above, along with Body Tracking coming later this year. There will be more free-to-use-assets from Facebook’s free library and the ability to separate people from their background, putting them in a completely different environment. Want to transport yourself to an unknown planet or see how you look with the Great Wall of China behind you? Facebook’s AR platform will allow brands to show users what they could look like in an environment of their choice. All these features will allow geo-targeting options as well, offering exclusive experiences to users in a specific location.
The Virtual Reality (VR) space has come a long way since last year’s conference. Facebook revealed a brand-new prototype system that can generate 3D reconstructions of physical spaces with surprisingly convincing results. This video shows a side-by-side comparison between normal footage and a complete 3D reconstruction. It’s hard to tell the difference between the video of an actual room, and a VR reconstructed version. (Hint: look for the foot in the video – that’s the non-VR video) Soon you’ll be able to post 3D objects directly in your News Feed using Facebook AR. Simply take a 3D image and drag and drop into your Facebook Post composer and users can be able to get a full 3D view. This means business can post their 3D products for users to get a complete picture into what they are interested in buying.
How to Build the Best Bot Experiences: Make it Relevant, Personalized and Seamless
It’s all about understanding your users’ intents, and why they want to use the bot to engage with your brand. To determine this, ensure your bot is equipped with robust Natural Language Processing (NLP) logic, to understand user’s queries and requests, so your bot will be able to answer quickly and more importantly, accurately.
Messenger encourages developers to use the Profile API to access information people choose to share such as their name and profile picture. They recently introduced Contact Info Quick Reply where users can opt in to share their phone number and email address to be used for future requests. Another new feature from Messenger is their Account Linking feature, which allows users to securely connect and access information kept in your CRM system within Messenger such as banking info for balance enquiries. Other available Messenger features such as time zone detection and personalized messages on a user’s birthday all help create a more fun, personalized experience for your engaged users.
Sometimes a user will need to speak to a Live Agent to get the information they need, and this handover needs to be seamless to mitigate drop-offs. Thanks to Messenger’s Handover Protocol (HOP), the bot can hand over the conversation seamlessly to the Live Agent without the user seeing a thing.
One thing is for sure, Messenger is becoming more robust and complex than ever before, which paves the way for a plethora of unique branded bot experiences. F8 was a whirlwind, but we’re so excited to use these latest features for our clients and can’t wait to share our latest launch with you. Still a company who hasn’t taken advantage of Messenger bots for your business? Contact us for a free estimate.
Also published on Medium.