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Line Draws Up Plans for Chatbot Future

Alex Spencer

Line logo IRL

Japanese messaging app Line has unveiled its new Messaging API, intended to better support chatbots on the platform.

The API introduces three new message types: 'confirm', which enables a simple 'yes'/'no' response from the user; 'button', combining pictures, text and other action buttons; and 'carousel', which uses a horizontally-scrolling format to display multiple pieces of content. More message types are due in future.

Chatbots developed using the API will also be compatible with group chats, enabling information and content to be shared with multiple users at once. Line has connected Notify, its API-based service which enables external web services and applications to send notifications as Line messages, to web automation tool IFTTT (If This Then That), adding capabilities for notifications based on everything from weather information to e-mail keywords.

The API will be supported with an SDK supporting five languages (Java, Go, Ruby, PHP and Perl 5).

These launches build on the Line Bot API released on a trial basis in April, which it says has been used to create around 20,000 bots to date. The company is launching its own Line Music search bot, enabling users to search the 18m tracks available on its streaming service, and has partnered with Navitime Japan to incorporate its train time and transfer information into a bot, for natural language search, transfer suggestions and delay updates.

To encourage further development, Line is also launching a bot awards program, with a maximum prize of ¥10m (£76,000) for the winner, which will run January-February next year.