Facebook introduced M in the US, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered assistant for its Messenger app which suggests relevant content “by popping into an open conversation… to enrich the way people communicate”.
M was announced over a year ago as a “small AI experiment powered by humans that could fulfil almost any request,” Laurent Landowski (who co-founded natural language processing startup Wit.AI which Facebook acquired in 2015) and Kemal El Moujahid, product managers at Messenger, explained in a blog post.
Now, M is fully automated and shows users features they may not have known were available in Messenger.
Suggestions from M appear when it recognises intent in a conversation. For instance, it will recognise when users are discussing payments and give them the option of sending or requesting money. It will also make sticker suggestions, give location sharing options and help coordinate plans.
M will also suggest ride sharing services for users discussing travelling, and enables polls to be conducted during group conversations.
“The more you use it, the more it can help,” explained Facebook, adding users can “expect to see more and more AI-powered, delightful and relevant experiences improving Messenger”.
M is launching to all iOS and Android users in the US and will eventually roll out to other countries.
While the rest of the world waits for M, they can update the app to get easier access to features like rich visual messaging tools and the ability to share content directly from the text composer. It is also adding a “More” tab offering access to features including games and payments.
This is not the first time messaging app makers have forayed into AI. In June 2016, Facebook tested Deep Text in Messenger, which uses neural networks to understand written language, while Google offers a messaging app with a built-in AI assistant called Allo