Facebook Launches Messenger 2.1

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New features roll out to marketers on Facebook's popular chat app

On the heels of Messenger 2.0's release in April, as well as the global expansion of the Messenger Ads beta earlier this month, Facebook has released the next major update to its popular Messenger app, Messenger 2.1.

The update brings substantial improvements to several areas of the app, most notably bots, customer experience, and other quality of life changes for marketers and developers.

For bots, Facebook is introducing built-in natural language processing (NLP). This will allow bots to automatically detect user input and asses the meaning of messages accordingly.  The built-in NLP currently recognizes terms and phrases like hello, bye, thanks, dates and times, location, money, phone numbers, emails, and URLs.

Additionally, Facebook introduced its Handover protocol. This protocol allows marketers to create multiple experiences within their bots, and introduces the ability to seamlessly switch from bot-based communications with users to live agents, depending on the complexity of the user's inquiry. Users perceive this fluid transition as a singular experience, as the handover protocol bounces the conversation back and forth between bot and agent.

In terms of customer experience, 2.1 brings seamless payments, which give customers a one-step process for payment within Messenger's webview. This is currently in beta, and only available to U.S. customers and businesses.

Businesses will now have access to additional calls-to-action like “Shop Now” and “Get Started,” as well as an extension of the mobile MEssenger SDK to desktop, bringing previously mobile-only features like User ID and sharing to desktop.

Chat extensions (like Spotify's famous playlist sharing) are rolling out to global pages, the customer API has been updated, and businesses now receive notifications when their bots are in violation of Messenger policies.

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