From guidelines to making the perfect steak to numerous other conversational cooking applications, food-focused bots on Facebook Messenger have been advancing rapidly. Now, along with numerous other advancements, Facebook has launched new features that make discovering and trying new food bots much easier. At its F8 conference in April, the company announced new “Discover” features that would demystify finding an interacting with the best bots, and these features officially launched this week for users in the United States, along with new chat extensions that allow users to conversationally interact with sites such as OpenTable.
Messenger has more than a billion downloads on Google Play alone, and Facebook confirms that more than 1.2 billion users use Messenger each month. Its popularity is giving rise to an enthusiastic community of bot builders. The company has been adding chatbot features within the nucleus of Messenger through its “M” AI assistant. We’ve written before about cooking with the Joule sous vide machine using Messenger, and new bots are taking conversational cooking in many directions.
So how do you discover the best bots and food oriented businesses and sites that you can interact with? On the lower right side of your Messenger home screen, touching a Discover button brings up categories that you can investigate, including one for Food & Drink. This lets you investigate organizations working with Messenger ranging from The Food Network to restaurants.
You can also investigate a “Featured” section to identify interesting new bots. A video from Facebook shows these features in action.
Bot developers and businesses can also now interact directly with users within Messenger chats. For example, you can reserve tables at restaurants conversationally via OpenTable. These features are enabled through Chat Extensions, which were also first announced at the F8 conference.
“Our goal with Discover is to ensure that experiences in Messenger are compelling, high quality and easy to find. This latest update makes it even more intuitive for people to find what they care about most,” writes Yingming Chen, a Facebook Messenger Engineer.
For developers and businesses interested in getting their bots or conversational cooking experiences added to the Discover section, submission instructions are found here.
Finally, Facebook has also made improvements to M, its AI-fueled personal assistant. As seen below, whether you are having a conversation with a person or a bot, M now intelligently suggests a “Save it for Later” option. If M senses that you are trading URLs for say, vegan recipes, it will automatically suggest that you save the links for later. In addition to links M will suggest that you may want to save Facebook posts, videos and more.