Apple injected a lot of fun stuff into iMessage with the release of iOS 10 in 2016, but in the coming days it will announce Business Chat for the messaging app, a somewhat drier feature aimed at making it easier for users to connect with businesses.
Launching as part of iOS 11 in the fall, Apple is touting Business Chat as “a powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages.”
It says anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch will be able to use their device to “get answers to questions, resolve issues and complete transactions,” adding that customers will be able to find businesses and start conversations from Apple apps such as Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri. In other words, it seems likely that when business information shows up in listings inside Apple’s apps, the option to initiate a chat session via iMessage will be offered alongside the company’s phone number and other details.
The decision to bring customers and businesses closer together via one of its core apps mirrors similar moves by the likes of Facebook with both Messenger and WhatsApp, while Twitter, too, has been developing its app to enable customer service interactions in the Direct Messages section of its social media app.
Adding extra features like this is also in Apple’s interest as it increases the likelihood of users staying inside the app instead of heading off to another service or a company’s website to get in touch. Better for Apple if a user stays with iMessage, especially as the app will soon be offering extra services like Apple Pay where you’ll be able to make financial transactions between yourself and family and friends — all part of the tech giant’s ongoing efforts to broaden Apple Pay’s appeal and ultimately to keep customers within its burgeoning ecosystem.