Line is the latest mobile messaging app to introduce bots

The bots are coming! Facebook is hotly tipped to open its Messenger platform for bots at its F8 next week, and that appears to have triggered numerous rivals into moving first. Kik launched its bot shop earlier this week, and now Japan’s Line has followed suit.

Line first announced its plans last month, amid a series of new features for its service, and today it began enabling developers to create bots. Line is initially capping things with just 10,000 ‘trial’ bots open on a first come, first serve basis. Bots will be limited to 50 friends — or 50 accounts that they serve — which is further proof that this is a very much a test before a wider rollout.

There’s nothing much to speak of right now for end users, but with the tech now in the hands of developers, we could see the first Line bots roll out soon.

The Line service counts 215 million active users, two-thirds of whom are based in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. The company had previously offered bot-like official accounts for brands that pay to use its platform to connect and interact with users, but now it is opening things up. Line said previously that it believes bots will be used to automate tasks like customer service, media distribution, managing smart home products and food reservations and bookings. Look out for every other messaging app under the sun launching its bot strategy very soon.