In spring 2016 Microsoft announced the launch of chatbots on Skype Messenger. At a conference in San Francisco the Company introduced the Skype Bot platform with a ready-made set of tools for creation of automated dialog systems for developers.
A Little about Skype
Skype is one of the popular Microsoft apps used to exchange messages, make video and voice calls and for other purposes. As of late 2010, the program had 663 mn users. Skype is mainly used for personal ends: the app is installed on a phone or a computer; with Internet access its user can instantly connect with any part of the world at any time. The app is also free.
Microsoft Skype for Business (former names of the service are Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Lync) is a single infrastructure for corporate communications, which provides almost the same functions as the standard app does, including audio- and videoconferencing. But there are a number of important differences:
- It can be integrated with Microsoft Office, Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server
- You can simultaneously add up to 250 people to an audio- or a videoconference.
- You can delegate control of your desktop, start a voting session or open a white board
- You can record video calls and upload them to a server
- Communication is more secure
- Only paid access, customization and support
- It can be integrated with own telephony
How to Find Bots on Skype
When you log on to Skype, open the search field in the contact pane on the left under your profile.
Then, if you know the name of the bot, just enter it into the search field. If you don’t know a specific bot and you just want to check out what bots are available, you have to enable chatbot account search. For instance, if you enter the word ‘chatbot’, you will see approximately the following results:
The displayed results will include user accounts (in a circle) and chatbots (in a square). You can press ‘More’ to narrow the search down to automated interlocutors.
When you choose a bot from the list, a description window will pop up, showing the name of the bot, its functions, owner, status and links to confidentiality provisions on the part of the bot’s owner and Microsoft.
It’s also very important to check if the Skype bot’s account is verified. A verified account means that the bot has gone through all moderation stages on the part of Microsoft and is safe to use.
How Skype Chatbots Work
It’s simple: they work the same way chatbots on other messengers, like WhatsApp, for instance, do. You can interact with them both by typing in your own text and by choosing pre-defined responses; some bots even understand messages with images and emoji.
In 2017 developers from all over the world were given access to Skype For Business Bot Framework, which allows to create chatbots, connect them to apps and configure integrations.
As of today people in 17 countries can create and use Skype bots, including Russia. However, it’s still early to speak about using voice bots on Skype. Although Microsoft is making progress and has far-reaching plans to develop virtual voice consultants. The company has been developing the speech synthesis and recognition technology for a long time. In 2014 they launched Microsoft Cortana smart assistant, but its Russian version is not yet available.
List of Bots on Skype
If you are wondering what virtual characters look like on Skype and what they can do, here’s a selection of chatbot accounts in English (we couldn’t find any in Russian):
- MemeCat. ‘They told me to sit here and make memes for humans’. The chatbot, which looks like Grumpy Cat, the Internet star, helps to make memes: you send it an image; it asks you to enter two phrases and sends the image back as a ready-made meme.
- Solitaire Bot. With this bot you can play the famous card game called Solitaire. The bot proposes two options of card movements, and you simply have to choose one. To be honest, it’s a very inconvenient mode of playing.
- Horoscope Bot. This bot is produced by Astro-Vision Company. It reads fortune by your date of birth and your name and makes predictions for every day. (I personally liked its predictions and I hope they come true 😊).
- Escape the Haunted Forest is a game chatbot, where you have to beat three witches and escape a forest. The bot has a very artistic and captivating narrative style, as if it were taken from a book.
- Ascendo Translate Bot is a translator bot. It can translate any phrase into any language. It’s a very handy tool when you urgently need to translate something.
If your company actively uses Skype for business and you would like to upgrade your communication process, make it more accessible or boost your customer experience, it can all be done with the help of smart virtual consultants. You can apply for a consultation on our website. The manager will assess the project level and answer any questions.