Facebook’s Messenger platform was unveiled in 2015 at the company’s F8 conference with the goal of letting developers “build apps that help people connect.” Last year, it expanded to support chatbots, which could have been a big thing, but ultimately wound up being “overhyped”.

This year, however, Facebook is turning its focus more towards discovery, helping the more than 1.2 billion monthly users really understand the potential of its chat app, both in conversing with friends and with businesses.“We, as Facebook, already have 60 million businesses in the ecosystem, and a large amount of them are on Messenger,” remarked Stan Chudnovsky, Messenger’s head of product.

Businesses that are on there wonder how Facebook is improving discovery.”While much of the past year has been about chatbots, Facebook is releasing and testing new tools to make Messenger more of what the company thinks is “the new social living room for the world.” Starting today, you’ll see new tabs for businesses and bots, games, the introduction of chat extensions, and offline support for parametric QR codes.Starting today, Facebook Messenger is getting an update that not only introduces dedicated sections to interact with brands and play games, but also adds a new way for third-party apps to be integrated into the experience.“Our goal at Facebook is not to launch a bunch of bots, but make businesses successful on Messenger and give them the ability to communicate with customers,” Chudnovsky said.

Facebook has now extracted all businesses and bots to have them reside in a new Discover tab.

In addition, Chudnovsky shared that nearby businesses would be featured, such as a local barber shop where a prospective customer can talk to the bot, set up an appointment, tap to see when they’re open or closed, get directions — it’s “what everyone wanted,” he said.Facebook has introduced numerous updates to its Pages feature, giving businesses new ways to connect with customers.

And while the company boasted that Pages were mobile-first, the feature was limited in facilitating a dialogue with people; this is the niche that Messenger can fill.

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