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Apple Business Chat on iMessage: Everything you need to know

I can use iMessage to have a beer or water delivered to my seat at a baseball game? Go on, I'm listening.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple's Business Chat feature first launched alongside iOS 11.3 in March. The feature gives iMessage users the option to contact and interact with businesses directly in the Messages app on an iOS device. 

Since then, more companies have integrated Business Chat, allowing users to contact customer service, place orders, or ask a concierge to do some gift research on their behalf. 

Current list of businesses

At launch, there were a handful of companies set up and ready to talk with customers via Business Chat. In July, Apple announced that American Express, Aramark, Dish Network, Four Seasons and Harry & David have joined the platform.  An official list of companies that support Business Chat can be found on Apple's website

As time goes on, more companies will surely add support for the feature. But instead of referring to an ever-changing list, it's pretty easy to figure out when a company works with Business Chat.

What to look for

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are a few different ways to start a conversation with a business from your iOS device.

  • When searching through Spotlight for a business, look for the Messages icon. Tap it to start a conversation.
  • On a website, look for a Chat with Messages button.
  • Searching in Safari, an autofill suggestion can contain a Messages button.

Some companies, such as retailer NewEgg, have integrated the chat feature into their iOS apps, giving you another option to start a conversation.

Or in the case of the Aramark integration, Philadelphia Phillies fans who are lucky enough to sit in a participating section of the ballpark can order a beer or water using iMessage and have it delivered to their seat. The fans can scan a QR code located on the seat back, which open a Business Chat with Aramark. 

What can you do?

conversation-with-1800flowers

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Once you tap on the Messages icon, the Messages app on your iOS device will open with the recipient field populated. Type your message, asking for help or saying what you need.

With Lowe's, for example, you can ask for help and recommendations surrounding your current project. You can also reschedule deliveries. The look and feel of a Business Chat changes to match the company you're talking to. For peace of mind, a check mark indicates you're talking with a true customer service representative and not someone posing as a business.

With 1-800-Flowers, for example, you can send a picture of some flowers you like, and the representative will try and find a local option that best matches the photo. At times they'll give you a drop-down menu to ask you a question.

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Apple

You don't have to stay active in the conversation. As long as you leave the conversation on your iOS device, you can continue getting help whenever you like.

Some vendors currently support purchasing a product or service directly within the chat using Apple Pay, while others plan to add Apple Pay support in the coming months.

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