Facebook Takes on Siri, Cortana With ‘M’
Step aside Siri and Cortana.
Facebook is getting into the digital assistant game with M, a new feature for its Messenger app, which can help you purchase items, find birthday gifts, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments, and more, according to a post from Facebook’s Vice President of messaging products, David Marcus. The social network on Wednesday began testing the feature with a “few hundred” users in the Bay Area, and plans to slowly roll it out to others over time, according to Wired.
This isn’t just a rip-off of Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now. M can “perform tasks that none of the others can,” Marcus told Wired.
Like its counterparts, M leverages artificial intelligence to help you get through your to-do list, but it also has another tool in its arsenal that Facebook hopes will give it a leg up over rivals: actual people. “It’s a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence as well as a band of Facebook employees, dubbed M trainers, who will make sure that every request is answered,” Wired wrote, adding that “Facebook’s goal is to make Messenger the first stop for mobile discovery.”
It works like this: Just tap a button at the bottom of the Messenger app to text M about what you need help with. You might, for instance, text M when you’re craving a burger in a new city you’re visiting. The service may then recommend a highly rated burger joint in the area and offer to make a reservation. From your end, you won’t know whether it’s the software or an actual person helping you.
M, which unlike Siri and Cortana doesn’t have a gender, will only make suggestions based on answers you offer up in the chat. At the moment, it doesn’t pull any data about your preferences from Facebook, but that might change in the future, the report noted.
The service is free and Facebook plans to eventually roll it out to all Messenger users.
“This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service,” Marcus wrote. “But it’s an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what’s important in their lives.”
Rumors about M first cropped up last month, with The Information reporting that the service was codenamed Moneypenny. It has since been in testing with Facebook employees, who told Wired that “one of M’s most popular requests from its Facebook employee testers: the service can call your cable company and endure the endless hold times and automated messages to help you set up home wifi or cancel your HBO.” It can also apparently plan birthday parties, booking an Uber car and restaurant, then send you cupcakes for dessert.
//Most Popular Articles
Source: Facebook Takes on Siri, Cortana With ‘M’
Via: Google Alerts for AI