BBVA API Market
Instant messaging platforms based on application programming interfaces (APIs), such as Telegram o Slack, are changing the way in which users communicate with one another and with the apps themselves. The platforms, which open their doors to developers, have become an ecosystem containing all manner of bots, virtual assistants that effectively and unquestioningly obey user orders.
The bots within Slack can organise meetings, order food for employees, contribute to their good health, improve their productivity and offer them performance and internet monitoring analytical tools. Others, such as Assist, also answer the messages in Telegram and Facebook Messenger to communicate with the APIs of more than twenty companies. Thanks to the bot, one can, for instance, request an appointment at the hairdresser’s or order a taxi.
Due to these small programmes, which serve as intermediaries between messaging applications and other tools, APIs have ceased to solely function as open windows. Now, in addition to maintaining them as a mere technological element, developers and companies must design them in accordance with the information and resources they will offer users, contributing truly valuable data, contents and services.
Likewise as a consequence of this universe of virtual assistants, opening one’s API to third parties has become an essential requirement for those platforms that want to be a part of this rising ecosystem. If they fail to provide developers with the necessary tools, the bots they create will not be able to offer their products and services via some of the chats and will therefore remain excluded from the market.
For those who have yet to face the technical challenges, Facebook has taken the lead to provide developers with the tools needed to integrate the bots with Facebook Messenger via its API. As its heads have explained: “Build just one bot, and your experience is available on all platforms where Messenger exists, including iOS, Android, and web” for the 900 million people who use the Facebook chat.
The bots within the messaging apps use the resources of APIs via what are known as CTAs (text and calls to action), which turn the words written by users into the actions provided by the programming interfaces. Since early this month, they have left a Beta platform available to integrate the new programmes. There are already 25 companies using its chat to serve their customers, from Walt Disney to The Wall Street Journal, not to mention JetBlue Airways.
However, the Asian services WeChat and Line have made more progress, almost becoming browsers from which users can access hundreds of services, make purchases (even of homes), access locations or identify customers. And Microsoft has also recently shown an interest in bots and left a wide gamut of tools for developers in what has become known as Microsoft Bot Framework. The programmes are to be integrated in Skype, but will receive orders via its virtual assistant, Cortana.
While the future still remains uncertain, more and more people are coming to regard bots as the replacements for applications: if users can do everything via a chat, they do not need to install apps for everything. Messaging services will thus practically become new operating systems – a whole new universe managed by APIs, which will serve as the centre of a new technological era.
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