Facebook, Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was rumored to release a virtual assistant a while back to compete with the likes of Siri and Cortana. It looks like the rumors were accurate as Facebook is going to release a new feature in its messenger app. The new feature called ‘M’ will make the Facebook Messenger app a personal assistant. In addition to sending messages, the messenger app will also do tasks for you, like booking restaurant reservations and flight bookings etc.
“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf” David Marcus, vice president of Facebook messaging products announced in a post on Facebook. “It can purchase items, get the gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”
What makes the app different from other virtual assistants?
“It is powered by artificial intelligence that is trained and supervised by people.” So ‘M’ will bring the human touch in the virtual assistant department which the other offerings are lacking. It will also do additional tasks that no other app does at present, according to Facebook.
“We start capturing all of your intent for the things you want to do” explains Marcus. “Intent often leads to buying something, or to a transaction and that’s an opportunity for us.”
As of now, users can communicate with the ‘M’ feature via text only as there is no voice enabled controls. The team at Facebook is anticipating the new feature will slowly expand over time and will become available to everyone.
Right now, the new feature is in beta stage and only about 200 people from San-Fransisco are testing it but it is expected to be released to the public soon. With the announcement of this new feature, Facebook will be competing with the likes of other virtual assistant apps like Siri from Apple, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa on Echo device, etc.
Do you want to see how Facebook M works? Go to The Next Web’s recent article that shows the day to day usage of FB’s new personal assistant on Messenger.