Dan Grover, whose occasional essays about the user interfaces used in smartphone apps in the Chinese market have provided a worthwhile sense of perspective on how smartphones can be used, has written the best take I've read on the current bout of bot-mania:
This recent "bot-mania" is at the confluence of two separate trends. One is agent AIs steadily getting better, as evidenced by Siri and Alexa being things people actually use rather than gimmicks. The other is that the the US somehow still hasn't got a dominant messaging app and Silicon Valley is trying to learn from the success of Asian messenger apps. This involves a peculiar fixation on how these apps, particularly WeChat, incorporate all sorts of functionality seemingly unrelated to messaging. They come away surprised by just how many differently-shaped pegs fit into this seemingly oddly-shaped hole. The thesis, then, is that users will engage more frequently, deeply, and efficiently with third-party services if they're presented in a conversational UI instead of a separate native app.
It's that part which, having spent the past two years in my current job eating and breathing messaging, seems a major misattribution of what makes chat apps work and what problems they're best at solving.
Definitely worth a read.
[Via The Overspill]