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    When your PA is just a chat away

    Digital personal assistant services are not new to us. With Facebook launching its own, called M (integrated inside Messenger), last month, it joins Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Windows’ Cortona as the big four. There are others, too, such as Assistant and Quip (rumoured to be a favourite of Mark Zuckerberg). But it’s only recently that WhatsApp is being used as an assistance platform. Quick and reliable, there’s something reassuring about these apps, as if you are chatting with a friend.  Here are some you can keep handy:
    TARS: Named after the robot in Interstellar, this Bengaluru-based service was launched this year. Just send a ‘Hello TARS’ WhatsApp message to 9900876785, and you can ask questions right away. Search-based answers aside, it also assists with payment-related queries. Need a flight? It will ask for the boarding point and destination, book the best available flight, and leave the payment up to you by sending you the secure link. From 10 am to 10 pm. Details: hellotars.com
    Tathastu: Launched this year, Tathastu is the brainchild of four students from IIT Bombay, and managed to get the Best Startup recognition from the Quora community within its first month. Currently inviting customers on a first-come-first-serve basis, it has services similar to that of TARS, and is currently available only in Mumbai. The good news is that they are expanding soon to other cities. Register on tathastunow.com
    Haptik: From finding deals to buying gifts, Haptik has you covered. The app also checks PNR statuses, finds you an electrician and even files customer complaints. Launched last year, it was named among the Top 25 Mobile Companies to watch in 2015 at the Mobile World Congress, and is planning to allow brands to directly engage with their customers. Available on Android and iOS. Details: haptik.co
    —Karan Pillai

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