UPD: Check out the new Inline bots as well!
Telegram is about freedom and openness – our code is open for everyone, as is our API. Today we’re making another step towards openness by launching a Bot API and platform for third-party developers to create bots.
Bots are simply Telegram accounts operated by software – not people – and they'll often have AI features. They can do anything – teach, play, search, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services, or even pass commands to the Internet of Things.
Today’s 3.0 update to the Telegram apps makes interacting with bots super-easy. In most cases you won’t even have to type anything, because bots will provide you with a set of custom buttons.
"Every application needs a slightly optimized set of buttons, just for it.”
Steve Jobs, 2007 iPhone launch
Bots can now provide you with custom keyboards for specialized tasks that could look like this for example:
Here are some sample bots that were built by the platform's beta testers this past weekend:
Our beta testers needed only a few hours to build these bots – setting up a new bot is a breeze. Just generate a key with @BotFather and use a simple https API to control your bot. If you’re an engineer, check out our Introduction to bots for details.
Bots in Telegram will look different from human users: their chat and profile screens have a slightly different UI and they don't have access to all messages by default when added to groups.
Once you've launched your bot, watch it spread. In Telegram, any forwarded message contains a link to its original sender. This means any message from your bot forwarded to a person or group is a messaging equivalent of a retweet – bots are viral.
Additionally, all bots have an Add To Group and a Share button in their profile. You can set up a description and link that will be used when people share your bot on Telegram or other platforms.
A typical link to a bot looks like this:
Opening such a link starts a chat with that bot if you have Telegram installed. These links are easy to identify because all bot usernames must end in bot.
If the bot developer wants to pass their bot some additional info (like an auth key for example, see deep linking), the link might also look like this:
Starting today, you'll see links like this in Telegram and elsewhere. Embrace them, they are bots! They will provide the services you asked us for – polls, news, games, integrations, e-butlers or cat images. Any dream can come true with bots.
The Telegram Team,
June 24, 2015
P.S. All bot developers are welcome to share ideas for our Bot API on @BotSupport.