At last year’s Microsoft Build conference, Satya Nadella announced Skype’s leap into the world of conversational computing, officially opening up the Skype platform with the debut of Skype chat bots—intelligent helpers you can add directly into your chats to make life more productive and fun.
We’ve learned a lot in the past year, and have been taking feedback from our great bot partners, hackathons, and online communities to make Skype the best possible experience for both consumers and developers.
This year at Microsoft Build 2017, we are thrilled to take things even further, evolving Skype as a platform for bots to a fully extensible and open platform for developers to integrate their technologies in order to build great conversational experiences.
Evolve – Skype Bots are evolving: This time last year, we announced the first preview chat and calling bots available on Skype. Since then, the capabilities and intelligent APIs have evolved tremendously to enable a blend of natural language and rich GUI interactions. Bots can chat in both 1:1 and group conversations, and can use video and audio cards with quick actions to guide the conversation. And today we announced our real-time video SDK preview for enabling interactive video experiences.
Expand – Talking video bots: These new bots can now be a direct participant in 1:1 or group Skype video calls using the real-time media platform for bots being released in preview. This platform provides real-time, voice and video streams of a Skype call which allows developers to build personal, immersive communications experiences with services and brands. Developers can now use their creative talents to create engaging, entertainment, and educational assistance bots with rich and interactive media content built into the experience.
Extend – You can now build your service directly into Skype: In the next few months we’ll be rolling out Skype Add-ins, a new feature to make it easier for developers to integrate their applications into 1:1 and group conversations. Developers can build on their existing web investments and provide consumers unique ways of bringing experiences into their Skype conversations without leaving the app.
Embed – Bring Skype chat to any website: Another new feature, Skype Web Control, lets developers bring the Skype chat canvas onto any website with only two lines of code. Web Control works with both bots and real Skype accounts, meaning you can easily chat with a bot, business, or individual from any web-control enabled website without needing to sign into Skype. And if you are a business owner or independent developer, you can easily use web control to plug your relevant Skype chat window into Bing to maximize exposure.
Monetize – Bot Payments: Now, as a developer, you can easily enable payments in your bot through the Microsoft Bot Framework, allowing consumers to make purchases directly in a Skype Bot chat through their Microsoft payment account, giving consumers the power to purchase directly through a bot without switching apps.
Grow – More surfaces for Skype: We’re also happy to share that Skype calling will be available on the Harmon Kardon Invoke, with voice activated commands that enable users to call individual contacts, businesses, or even communicate directly with talking bots, meaning your Skype experience can extend further than ever before. Stay tuned for more to come in this space in the near future!
This past year has been a fantastic learning experience for all of us as Skype and we strive to enable the best conversational experiences that help people be more connected to the things they care about, and more productive in their daily lives. We’re excited to continue to evolve the Skype platform into the best canvas for communication powered experiences. In addition to building more intelligent bots, developers can now also extend the power of the Skype canvas with Add-ins and even embed Skype directly on their website. Whatever your scenario, we want to help developers create the optimal experience across the entirety of a conversations, empowering them to surprise and delight consumers in the process.