Apple is taking the popularity of its iMessage platform into the business ecosystem on iOS 11 through a partnership with Nuance Communications, Inc.

The new Business Chat will allow businesses to connect with customers using Apple’s Messages platform. This allows customers to engage with their banks, airlines, telecommunications, or retailer to find answers to questions, resolve issues, and complete transactions. Business Chat will work across the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Apple’s Business Chat comes via integration with Nuance’s digital customer engagement platform. This solution uses the company’s artificial intelligence-powered Nina Virtual Assistant. Users can currently find Nina integrated with Amazon’s Alexa for enterprise customer engagement as an Alexa Skill. The digital assistant is also supports chat platforms such as Facebook Messanger, WeChat, and various enterprise apps.

“While Siri made the virtual assistant mainstream, the ability to start a chat session with businesses using Messages is positioned to turn message-based customer server into the dominant way consumers engage with brands,” said Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance’s enterprise division. “The Apple Business Chat announcement is significant for the evolution of customer service and will forever change how consumers and businesses intelligently connect.”

The Nina Virtual Assistant can be implemented across the entire Apple ecosystem. This includes phone, mobile app, messaging apps, SMS/text, and IoT devices such as home speakers. As smart assistant devices become increasingly popular, that type of integration will be necessary.

According to a Forrester report published this spring, Apple Messages has become the most popular form of person-to-person communications, with US Apple users alone sending 40 billion messages daily. All of those users will have access to Business Chat with iOS 11.

iOS 11 is scheduled to release this fall. Business Chat is currently available through developer preview.


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