What is a Skype Chatbot?
Yep, there are chatbots on Skype.
This may surprise you. Though we try to cover all types of chatbots, we have not really mentioned or written about Skype bots yet.
So let's fix this right now.
In this short article, we are going to dig a little deeper into Skype's exciting bots. We will also, of course, look at a few examples and get you to test a few of them as well.
A brief history of the Skype chatbot
Skype, a Microsoft product, opened its APIs at the end of Q1 in 2016. Back then, Microsoft made a series of big announcements around several of their products and brands.
Developers from all around the world could now build chatbots on this platform. The more exciting part of the announcement? A possibility to build and interact with Skype bots via... voice!
Microsoft's goal back then was, surely, to try and compete with services such as Alexa. At this point, though, I have yet to see (and test) a Skype voice chatbot -- I will thus focus on text chatbots.
How do Skype chatbots work?
Skype chatbots work the way you would expect them to.
As a text-based chatbot, they respond to buttons and text input. Some, as we will see later in the article, can also sort of process images which is always fun.
There are no surprises yet. I expect once Skype starts releasing more voice chatbots, the functionalities will make for a much more entertaining article.
The Skype chatbot directory
If there is one thing Skype has done particularly well so far it is the chatbot directory.
Along with the opening of their APIs, Skype have created a new button in the top right corner of their app.
Clicking this button opens up a list of available chatbots to engage with. You can read a summary of what they are and what they can do, along with a few privacy statements.
Chatbots on most platforms suffer a discoverability issue. Finding one on Facebook Messenger is not always easy, for instance. The way Skype have decided to do it is smart.
They have made the 'add chatbot' button available right from the contact panel, next to the 'add contact' button. This makes it easy to discover. They have also released their own chatbot that alerts you of new features and things to try.
Does Skype for Business support chatbots?
I'm pleased to say that yes, we can integrate a chatbot within Skype for Business.
Some of our largest clients use Skype for Business as an internal communication tool. From our experience, some of the largest banks in the world (or, at least, those I have worked with) use this Skype for Business.
In the early days (2014-2016), deploying chatbots on Skype for Business was sort of a pain. There was very little access and we had to hack around a little bit. Thankfully, towards the end of 2017 they started opening things up -- making everyone's life a lot easier.
It's important to note that the Skype for Business Bot Framework channel Microsoft has available is still in Developer Preview mode. Though for most chatbot developers this would mean game over, our good relationship with Microsoft has made implementing our clients' Skype for Business chatbot solutions a breeze.
A few Skype chatbots to play with
We have to end this article with a few cool bots for you to play with. After all, this is probably why you're reading this in the first place!
I had a browse and played with a few earlier on today, here are three I picked.
Want more? We're putting together a list of cool chatbots to test, head over.
Doctor Who Bot
Ok, biased for sure. As an avid Whovian, I had to try this one. The Doctor Who Bot is a story bot. You start by getting a call from the Doctor himself and embark on a story to save the universe (of course).
It's quite fun. I haven't had the chance to go much further yet but I'll keep this one around for entertainment.
Use Skype chatbot's directory and type 'doctor who' to find it!
Your Face is ridiculously funny. This Skype chatbot requires you to send a picture of yourself (or your colleagues. Try your colleagues). It will 'analyse' the picture and tell you what it believes it is seeing in it.
I am offended. Can't deny it is right, but offended nonetheless.
Always wanted to become a chef? Skype is there for you. The Heston bot gives you cooking tips, recipes, and more. Upon release of the bot, a few journalists asked for our feedback, which we happily gave to MMG.
Now you know a little bit more about Skype chatbots, go and have a play! There are loads more for you to try. Found anything fun? Let me know!