At WWDC 2017, Apple is set to announce Business Chat, a feature that looks to be a direct shot at customer service messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and Twitter’s DM support. Not a whole lot of details are currently available from the official website other than that customers will be able to start a chat with businesses by searching for them from Siri, Spotlight, Safari, or Maps — which, if Apple can get businesses to sign on, will help iOS users avoid the need to have Messenger or Twitter installed in order to start interacting (i.e. file complaints) with various companies’ customer service departments.
In a preview screenshot Apple provided, a dad has messaged Apple from his phone to discuss buying an iPad for his daughter. The responder appears to be a real person (he introduces himself by name) which is similar to how Twitter currently handles customer service support. (Typically Twitter-based support team members sign off with their initials to let the customer know who is handling their case.)
Apple also says there will be built in features like Apple Pay and calendar integration, which will allow Business Chat to facilitate purchases without requiring the user to exit the chat. Facebook’s Messenger for Business announced a similar integration back in 2015. China’s WeChat has long had a feature like this as well.
We’ll find out more details on how exactly this works when Apple officially unveils Business Chat in a session on June 9th. For now, the feature is available in an iOS 11 developer preview.