The HERE Facebook Messenger bot launched earlier today, and it’s now possible to get directions without even leaving Facebook. All you have to do is tell the Messenger bot where you want to go.
Most of us spend an indecent amount of time on Facebook, checking out what the world is up to and keeping in touch with friends and family. And thanks to our latest innovation, you can now type an address into Facebook Messenger and the HERE bot will provide directions. We’re currently testing the bot to see how people are using it, but if you’re a frequent visitor to Facebook it could well be the fastest way to get from A to B.
The Messenger bot is the brainchild of software engineer Dariusz Siedlecki and he explains that the inspiration came from a time when web interfaces were a lot simpler.
“When I first joined the company and we had the very first version of our website, we had this nice functionality of being able to put in the search field, ‘from X to Y’. The site automatically redirected you to the route between these points, and this was basically what I wanted to replicate from the very beginning with this bot.”
Dariusz’s bot means that when you’re on Facebook, all you need to do is open the HERE Messenger conversation and ask the bot how to get to the pub, for directions to the restaurant or to other destinations. The bot will ask your location, and then provide a route. It’s even capable of remembering previous locations and destinations, speeding up the process even further.
“It’s faster than opening a website or opening Google and searching for a place,” says Dariusz, “speed is definitely the main advantage.”
There are limitations with the current test version of the bot – you’ll need to know the name of the restaurant or the address, for example, and Dariusz points out that it’s best to share your location at the start of the conversation, enabling the bot to focus its searches on the area around you.
While Dariusz has been the main developer of the Facebook Messenger bot, the concept has inspired others at HERE to get involved, and he explains: “It started with just me and it was my own child from day one, but then I had a lot of interest in the bot from my line manager. I taught him how to run the bot locally and how to make changes, and as a result he added modifications to the bot as well.”
Dariusz is particularly proud of the simplicity on offer from the Messenger bot, telling us: “Just tell it where you want to go, that’s my favourite feature, and it can even remember my location – it can’t get any easier than that.”
While the bot is currently purely about getting to your destination as quickly as possible, there are other features in the pipeline. “We want to launch the bot and check out how people are using it,” explains Dariusz.
“One of our ideas will be to integrate the nearby features from HERE WeGo, which will basically allow you to see all the content that companies provide us with. Potentially it could have a pretty basic ‘go home’ or ‘go to the office’, but then the bot needs to know what home is, what office is, and then you’re building an AI. I like the simplicity really, and would like it to stay like this.”
Want to try out the HERE Facebook Messenger bot? Check it out at https://m.me/here and let us know what you think in the comments below.