A brand new Y Combinator-backed startup, Prompt, has introduced a really cool service which it likens to “the command line for the real world.” Available via SMS, through Slack’s chat bot and on the web, Prompt lets you send simple text commands to access a myriad of online services, make purchases and control Internet of Things devices such as Nest’s intelligent thermostats and smoke detectors, WeMo switches, Hue bulbs, Rachio sprinklers and more.
With Prompt, you can access automated assistance across categories like commerce, home automation, information and productivity by sending specially-formatted command line messages to do things like order an Uber, check your flight, read the news, get directions or the weather, get a recipe, find a business on Yelp and much more.
As for third-party integrations, Prompt currently offers support for Uber, AngelList, Bitly, Etsy, Foursquare, Google Maps, IMDb, WhoIs, Merriam-Webster, Hue, Powerball, NYT, Weather Channel, Wikipedia, WeMo, XE.com, Wolfram Alpha, Yahoo Finance, Yelp, Zillow and many others.
Additional integrations will be rolled out in due time, including support for Evernote, Gmail, Google Calendar, PayPal, Wunderlist, Telegram, WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE, Viber, Skype and HipChat.
A full-on command-line utility is in the works, too. They’re also providing the Chatbot Development Kit (CDK) for developers to build configurable chatbots for Prompt with very little effort.
A few examples of Prompt’s specific command line syntax follow below.
Ordering a Domino’s pizza
@dominos large Hawaiian
Setting the temperature on Nest
Checking the weather for specific ZIP code
Hailing an Uber
@uber: Send “@uber from [pick-up] to [destination]” to get a fare estimate, and then follow the instructions to link your Uber account and confirm the ride request. Example: @uber from YCombinator to SFO
As you can see for yourself, the service could actually benefit from natural language processing and Prompt’s founder acknowledges as much.
“Like many people, I believe conversational interfaces will change the way we interact with the world around us. There’s an entire ecosystem to be built, akin to the App Store in its scale,” company founder Tom Hadfield told TechCrunch.
The team is currently building out the natural language processing to make the commands “less brittle,” according to Hadfield. But how are they going to make money?
Well, they take a cut of each commerce transactions that takes place on their platform and might request users to pay to use some of Prompt’s premium commands.
To get started with Prompt, send ‘Hi’ via SMS to 650-666-2299 or enter your mobile phone number at www.promptapp.io.