It’s not quite Independence Day 3, but the chat bots have landed. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Let me guide you through some of the basics.

What is a chat bot?

In simple terms, a chat bot is a robot that can talk to us. Crazy, right?! We’re living in the future! It’s a form of AI (Artificial Intelligence) that’s designed to communicate with us real folk, giving us the information we need in a quick and digestible way. They may inform and educate, entice us to respond to a specific offer or sometimes be just for the LOLs.

Where can I find them?

In early 2016, Facebook Messenger welcomed bot functionality with open arms in an attempt to keep more Facey members in the app for as long as possible. As with most first attempts at new tech, it was slow to start and didn’t always provide a natural and seamless interaction. However the initial bumps in the road have been ironed out and the bots continue to become more intelligent, learning with practice and time.

Here is a list of five top examples of chatbots operating on Facebook Messenger right now.

Five of the best Facebook Messenger chat bots

1. ABC News

Around the 2016 Federal Election the ABC News launched the first iteration of their news bot, giving Aussies the need to know details as political updates streamed in. As the year came to a close, a new and improved version was made available for all your general newsy snippets. Opt-in to be kept in the loop on the topics and issues that matter to you, be it sport, travel or politics, and ask for more information when you’d like to delve deeper.

2. Kayak Travel

Yep, you can now plan and book your travel through Facebook!

The Kayak Travel bot helps you get to the greatest beaches, highest mountains, greenest forests and most pristine waters, helping you choose the best dates and accommodation for your budget without even leaving the Messenger app. Great news for those who want to book and go, and perhaps a little dangerous for those of us who love holidays and are a little trigger happy with the ‘book now’ button.

3. Poncho the Weather Cat

This is definitely one of the best examples of a chat bot that I’ve seen so far, and it certainly carries its own in the personality department (likely the reason why its popularity has skyrocketed following the launch).

Poncho sends updates on weather, traffic and other vital pieces of information you need to know before you leave the house each morning, and others that you don’t need to know, like your horoscope or a joke just to brighten your day.

While this one isn’t available in Australia just yet, there is a call for us Aussies to sign up and show our support for the bot to arrive on our shores.

4. Domain

In an Australian property first, you can now search for houses nearby when you’re in an area you like with the Domain messenger bot.

This award-winner aims to take a little bit of the time pressure out of looking for a home through its messenger integration. If you’re house hunting this weekend, why not give this bot a try and see if you think it could revolutionise your property search.

5. WTF Is That?

Have you ever found yourself wondering what a particular landmark was? How about a certain car model, celebrity or weird type of food? WTF Is That is the bot you never knew you needed, OK maybe you don’t exactly need it, but you’ll certainly have some fun with it. All you need to do is send in a photo of the item in question and it’ll spit back a response with an answer.

I think chat bots are here to stay, so might be worth trying out a few now to stay ahead of the curve! If you find yourself needing more data to support the habit, we’ll be here with our low cost data plans – so check them out too!

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