Mobile messaging platform Telegram has added a Bot API and platform through which developers can create bots. In the Telegram environment, bots constitute ordinary Telegram accounts. The difference lies in control. Bot accounts are controlled and managed by software instead of people, and such accounts typically act with some level of artificial intelligence. The new API and platform maintains a long list of potential use cases (e.g., tech, learn, play, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services, and even command devices in the Internet of Things).
Telegram apps that support version 3.0 can utilize functionality brought via the Bot API. In most cases, users conversing with a Telegram bot don't even need to interact with a keyboard, as bots provide their own custom buttons. To demonstrate the Bot API functionality, the beta testers built some sample bots. The examples included:
- @ImageBot – send this bot a keyword and it’ll provide you with a relevant picture.
- @TriviaBot – test your trivia knowledge or add to groups to compete with friends.
- @PollBot – add this one to group chats to create polls.
- @RateStickerBot – discover and rate new stickers.
- @AlertBot – set a time and this bot will send you a reminder for anything you like.
- @HotOrBot – find friends with this Tinder-like dating bot.
- @GithubBot – track GitHub updates.
- @StoreBot – find new bots and rate them.
The Bot API uses an HTTP-based interface. Calls and requests are handled via typical GET and POST methods. Returns are provided in a JSON data format. Types available include User, GroupChat, Message, PhotoSize, Document, Audio, Sticker, Video, Contact, Location, Input File and Update. Developers interested in creating bots should visit Telegram's introduction to bots page.
Setting up a bot with Telegram is simple via the API. The entire list of bots listed above was up and running in a matter of hours. While bots can easily go viral through shares, bot profiles do operate differently than typical human user accounts. The UI is slightly different, and bots do not have access to all messages of a group chat by default. If you are a Telegram user, expect to start interacting with more bots for things like polls, news and games.