There were rumors that the world’s most popular social media platform was working on its own version of a personal digital assistant. Well, it turns out the rumors are indeed true. Facebook recently revealed that it was indeed busy testing and polishing a new service called M. Basically, M is a personal digital assistant that is directly integrated inside Facebook’s own Messenger mobile app. M can complete certain tasks as well as search for information. Facebook claims that M is driven by artificial intelligence that is supervised and trained by people.
For now, it is still too early for M to be made available on a large scale. But based on Facebook’s testing so far, the personal assistant service is doing well, deftly completing a diverse range of tasks that include buying items online, making reservations at restaurants, booking travel arrangements, setting up appointments, and many others.
Ever since Facebook convinced David Marcus (formerly the president of PayPal) to head its Messenger development division beginning last year, the social media giant’s messaging platform has seen a lot of enhancements and innovative features. Indeed, users saw Messenger becoming a stand alone app (and becoming one of the most downloaded apps in 2014), and even incorporating a payment feature.
And now, the Messenger app is adding a personal assistant service to its arsenal. This puts is squarely among the shoulders of other services, such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These other brands have certainly helped their users better manage their daily tasks and even enjoy better and quicker access to information and other helpful tools (such as other apps and software services).
As for Facebook’s M, integrating it directly inside Messenger appears to be an inspired decision. People now use the Messenger app more than ever, and what better way to provide them with another useful feature than by having a personal assistant feature built in the app, instead of having users install a separate one (which could be a hassle when you are trying to launch another app outside the Messenger environment). Also, incorporating a human element may be an advantage. Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now are mainly driven by artificial intelligence, which is all well and good. But Facebook is deciding to reinforce M’s algorithms by having it supervised with real, breathing human beings.
Deploying M to all Messenger app users will be a challenge, of course, and it will definitely take some time. But once Facebook gets the ball rolling, it should only be a matter of time before its users can easily dial M for help.
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