The 6 best chatbots for iPhone users | Best free chatbots for iOS

We strike up conversation to achieve all sorts of things, from sharing the latest gossip to getting hold of vital information. But the art of chatting is taking a very different direction in the 21st century. Here are 6 of our favourite chatbots for iPhone users - and they're all free

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Best chatbots for iPhone

Which are the best chatbots for iPhone?

Conversation is an integral part of being human. If we weren't able to talk to each other, we'd struggle to get by in life. Whether it be through written or spoken mediums, communication lets us make our thoughts and feelings known, whatever the context.

We strike up conversation to achieve all sorts of things, from sharing the latest gossip to getting hold of vital information. It's a very human concept and has been used for millennia. But the art of chatting is taking a very different direction and is entering the 21st century through the rise of the chatbot.

Best chatbots for iPhone: What's a chatbot?

It's likely that you've come across the term chatbot, but the nuances of the concept are less well known.

It's pretty simple, however. A chatbot (also known as a chatterbot or talkbot) is a form of computer program that uses artificial intelligence to conduct conversation through auditory or textual means. Chatbots are often designed to replicate the way a human would talk and communicate to make the experience as convincing as possible.

Following the rules and conventions of human conversation, these bots aim to serve a variety of purposes. For example, it could be that a company uses them for customer service functions, letting you sort out problems you have with a product or service quickly and easily - without having to speak to a human being. They can also be used for acquiring information such as weather or news updates.

The chatbot has become one of the top tech trends of 2016, with big players such as Facebook and Telegram having already made their move into the area by launching their own bots and bot platforms. In this article we take a look at six bots and bot platforms for iPhone that have the potential to improve your life in a plethora of fun and useful ways.

(This term and others are explained in our Apple user's tech jargon dictionary.)

Podcast discussion: Microsoft Tay and misbehaving chatbots

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discussed genocidal chatbots (don't worry, most chatbots are friendly!) in their eighth episode. It starts at the 13-minute mark:

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Which are the best chatbots for iPhone?

Conversation is an integral part of being human. If we weren't able to talk to each other, we'd struggle to get by in life. Whether it be through written or spoken mediums, communication lets us make our thoughts and feelings known, whatever the context.

We strike up conversation to achieve all sorts of things, from sharing the latest gossip to getting hold of vital information. It's a very human concept and has been used for millennia. But the art of chatting is taking a very different direction and is entering the 21st century through the rise of the chatbot.

Best chatbots for iPhone: What's a chatbot?

It's likely that you've come across the term chatbot, but the nuances of the concept are less well known.

It's pretty simple, however. A chatbot (also known as a chatterbot or talkbot) is a form of computer program that uses artificial intelligence to conduct conversation through auditory or textual means. Chatbots are often designed to replicate the way a human would talk and communicate to make the experience as convincing as possible.

Following the rules and conventions of human conversation, these bots aim to serve a variety of purposes. For example, it could be that a company uses them for customer service functions, letting you sort out problems you have with a product or service quickly and easily - without having to speak to a human being. They can also be used for acquiring information such as weather or news updates.

The chatbot has become one of the top tech trends of 2016, with big players such as Facebook and Telegram having already made their move into the area by launching their own bots and bot platforms. In this article we take a look at six bots and bot platforms for iPhone that have the potential to improve your life in a plethora of fun and useful ways.

(This term and others are explained in our Apple user's tech jargon dictionary.)

Podcast discussion: Microsoft Tay and misbehaving chatbots

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discussed genocidal chatbots (don't worry, most chatbots are friendly!) in their eighth episode. It starts at the 13-minute mark:

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Facebook Messenger bots

Price: Free
Download now: Within Facebook Messenger app

Facebook sees huge potential in chatbots. At its eighth developer conference, which took place in April, the firm launched an updated version of Messenger that integrates chatbots. They let businesses offer users automated customer service support, content, e-commerce capabilities and other features.

To access the bots, you simply need to be signed up to Facebook and have the Messenger app downloaded. The platform is currently in the early days, and there isn't a library of bots as such. Instead, to find a bot, you type a keyword in the search bar - which could be a company or function name - and you'll get a sub-heading called "bots and businesses". Here, you'll find bots that are available to use.

Once you click on one, you enter an IM window, just as though you were talking to a friend. The bot will appear as 'active'. If you message it, you'll get a reply pretty much instantly. Companies like Argos, CNN and the BBC are already using the platform, and more bots are yet to come. Using CNN as an example, you can send its chatbot topical words and it'll reply back with relevant news stories.

Hi Poncho is also handy. Send it your city or town name, and you'll get the current weather forecast. It's a bit iffy with more obscure names, but it works for common locations.

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Telegram bots

Price: Free
Download now: Telegram Bot Store

Popular messaging app Telegram is in on the game, too. Just like Facebook, it has developed a bot platform into its main IM service. The main difference is how you access the bots. While they're built straight into Facebook Messenger, you have to physically download them on to the Telegram app.

That said, the process is far from hard. Once you get the Telegram app on your iPhone and sign up using your mobile number, you can think about adding bots. For this, Telegram has a separate bot store. The website is essentially a catalogue full of bots. They're categorised based on areas such as games, news and education, and you can also flick through a chart of the best and most recently launched.

When you find one that takes your fancy, you click the "Add To Telegram" button, and you're redirected to the main app. This means the bot is installed and ready to use. There are hundreds of bots, capable of doing anything from playing poker with you to helping you book flights. Guggy is one of the most popular and fun ones to try. Send it any word, and it'll find you a relevant gif.

What's awesome is all the bots are free.

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Chatterbot

Price: Free
Download now: App Store

You don't always have to go down the messenger platform route to get the most out of bots. There are plenty you can download on the App Store individually, and Chatterbot is an excellent example - although it should be pointed out that it's not quite as refined or useful as the bots you can get on Facebook and Telegram.

There are loads of adverts, but it's free to download. You can ask it anything, and it'll come back to you with an answer in a matter of seconds. The bot doesn't really learn much about you, and the answers are generic. If you ask it a fact, the chances are it'll say something sarcastic or sassy. It's never particularly serious.

For example, if you say "Who's the Queen of England?", it'll instantly say Madonna. And if you want it to tell you the weather, it'll tell you to look out the window. The bot seems to think London is a girl as well, rather than a place.

It can sometimes get a bit cheeky, but you have the option to stop it from swearing. You just go into settings and flick a toggle. The bot is also available to use in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, French and Italian.

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Virtual Talk

Price: Free
Download now: App Store

Like Chatterbot, Virtual Talk is an individual chatbot you can download from the App Store, and it's completely free. Pegged as one of the best chatbots you can get on iOS, it uses artificial intelligence to remember what you say and to learn new dialogue.

If you've got a celebrity you've always wanted to have a conversation with, you're able to change the bot's name and profile pic to theirs. As an example, if you change its name to Taylor Swift, it'll start talking about music to you. You can even have conversations with several bots at the same time and let your friends join in too.

Want to get creative? Then you can teach it your own phrases and get it to repeat them back. And it'll tell you a ton of jokes, even if they are a tad cheesy. Whatever the case, Virtual Talk is more fun than it is useful. It's a great way to kill time.

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Luka

Price: Free
Download now: App Store

Developed in San Francisco, Luka is a messaging service full of helpful and fun bots. Using natural-language processing, the app can help you make and arrange plans with your friends, play games and find great places to eat. It can do just about anything, really.

The cool thing about Luka is that the chatbot and messaging functionalities are separate, so you can access and use all the chatbots on offer without actually signing up. If you want to use it as a way to talk to your friends, you'll have to give it your email address and set up a password.

Luka is very easy to use and looks good. There are several hubs housing the bots and all your chats. In the chatbot section, there are helpful bots that can do things such as calculate weight, answer factual questions and find stock images, and more fun options that'll quiz you about topics such as 90s culture.

 

Best chatbots for iPhone: Ghostbot for Burner

Price: Free
Download now: Ghostbot

While online dating services like Tinder and Match are a great way to find your soulmate, they're also full of people who'll send you inappropriate messages and be really annoying. If you've experienced this, the block button has likely become your best friend.

Ghostbot is a chatbot that's been built to put a stop to creepy texters. Built for Burner, a platform that lets you create phone numbers and dispose of them quickly, the bot can send a certain contact pre-written responses in a bid to scare them off and ensure the don't keep messaging you. 

The bot can identify all types of messages and respond to them in a human-like way. That said, the messages aren't rude or offensive. They simply act as a way of communicating that you're not interested. If someone were to ask you about your plans during the week, Ghostbot can tell them you're busy. It's a handy bot to have if you've been through trolling.

While many will see chatbots as gimmicky and question their future, others believe they're useful and have every chance of succeeding. Whatever the case, chatbots are still in the early stages of development and rollout. The bots and platforms that are available now serve as a taster of what's set to come next. They can be useful and fun, but there's a little way to go before they're mainstream.

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