Chat bots have seen a resurgence of note this year, being powered by machine learning and natural language processing. And Facebook Messenger has been the main driver of these smart assistants.
So then, which bots are worth checking out? We look at a few picks that stand out from the pack right now. Some of these might not be innovative or game-changing, but they’re interesting examples of what you can do with the technology.
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One for the football fans, EPLBot focuses on all things English Premier League. Who knew?
Anyway, the bot delivers standings, results, upcoming fixtures and live scores, making for a great, no-frills tool then.
Looking for more sports though? Then theScore is another bot worth trying out, although this is heavily focused on US sports.
We’re including both chatbots here, as they fulfil similar tasks really.
Digg and Techcrunch both allow you to search for stories based on tags, such as smartphones, videos and more. But they also allow you to subscribe to notifications as well.
Facebook chat bots are a great way to get your dose of news too
Digg sends a morning newsletter to your inbox if you’re into that, while Techcrunch allows you to subscribe to a feed of the most popular articles on the website.
Techcrunch is more of a technology-focused bot (mirroring the website), but Digg is a general news/tech/cool stuff bot. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use both really.
Pokemon Go Bot
Yes, we’ve even seen a bot or two being created to take advantage of the Pokemon Go phenomenon. So what does it do?
Well, Pokemon Go Bot offers server status updates (online, offline), Pokemon information and details on your own Pokemon (either by manually entering info or by uploading screenshot).
The bot also claims to show nearby Pokemon, but this function is broken due to Niantic Labs cracking down. Still, not a bad example of a companion bot.
Need to track your period and get ample warning? Then this little chatbot, called Bearhug, is for you.
To use this bot, you’ll need to enter the date of your last period as well as your cycle length. From here, it’ll give you a date for your next period and the time since your last one (including a summary – such as whether it’s late or not).
Weirdly enough, if the bot detects you’re male, it asks you to share it with female friends.
OLX South Africa
Believe it or not, but South Africa’s own OLX classifieds service has a chat “bot” too – and it’s pretty intriguing at first glance.
The OLX effort allows you to post your wares for sale to the service, as you first upload a picture and then set a price for your desired product. Not a showcase for natural language processing or a pure bot, but it does a decent job anyway.
One of the cooler chat bots out there, Kayak’s effort allows you to search for plane tickets and hotel bookings around the world. And it’s pretty simple stuff too.
To get started, you choose between “flights”, “hotels” or “more options”. The latter includes things to do, car rentals and other miscellaneous information. Choose flights and it’ll ask you where you’re flying from and your destination (as well as preferred dates), then spitting out relevant ticket prices. Not bad at all.
One of the more useful apps on mobile gets a chat bot too in the form of the Hooks bot for Messenger.
Hooks allows you to get notified about a variety of things, such as upcoming TV episodes, hot new games on a desired platform, music album releases and posts from your favourite subreddit.
Movie recommendation services are rather nifty, with the likes of SA’s own TasteMonster standing out from the crowd. But inevitably, we’ve also seen a similar bot emerge.
The And Chill bot asks you to name your favourite movie and a reason for picking it, then spits out a couple of suggestions (as well as links to their trailers). These suggestions can be way off and it works best with blockbusters, but it’s an interesting way to find new movies nonetheless.
One of the more prominent chat bots, Jarvis is another entry in the rapidly growing personal assistant category. But far from being a general assistant, it specialises in delivering timeous reminders.
To get started, you’ll first need to set your timezone by specifying your city. From here, you can then ask Jarvis to set reminders for you, such as “remind me to do the washing tonight” or “remind me to go to gym at 6am tomorrow”. The app will then inbox you with the reminder at the specified time period.