Facebook today rolled out a new virtual assistant called "M" inside its Messenger app for a limited number of users in the Bay Area, reports Wired. "M" is powered by both artificial intelligence and Facebook employees, enabling Messenger users to ask questions and complete tasks such as making restaurant reservations, ordering birthday flowers or discovering the best places to go hiking in California.

Facebook Messenger M
Using "M" is as simple as beginning a conversation with the assistant through the Messenger app, at which point it will begin providing you with recommendations or ask further questions to narrow down your request. Unlike Siri, "M" does not have a gender, nor it is possible to know whether you are being helped by a bot or a real Facebook employee -- but Facebook aims to make sure that every request is answered.

"M" aims to take on Siri, Google Now, Cortana and a growing selection of virtual assistants as the "first stop for anyone looking to do or buy anything":

It won’t take long for Messenger’s users to realize M can accomplish much more than your standard digital helper, suspects David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook. “It can perform tasks that none of the others can,” Marcus says. That’s because, in addition to using artificial intelligence to complete its tasks, M is powered by actual people.

Marcus believes that "M" will slowly expand beyond the Bay Area and eventually reach all of Messenger's 700 million users around the world.

Facebook Messenger [Direct Link] is free on the App Store for iPhone.

Top Rated Comments

Risco Avatar
78 months ago
Does anyone really use these virtual assistants? The only thing I regularly use it for is to set a countdown for my cooking!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordQ Avatar
78 months ago
Maybe people can ask M how to close their accounts.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
78 months ago
So Facebook employees will be reading your messages to see what you want and what you're talking about. Nice.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jpgr15 Avatar
78 months ago
Thanks for the thought, FB, but I don't think most want another personal assistant to deal with - just for the current to step up her game a bit. Looking at you, Siri.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pakaku Avatar
78 months ago
Yay for more data-mining, I guess
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Razeus Avatar
78 months ago
Siri is a joke at this point. Cortana, version 1 mind you, does more out of the box on day one than Siri has done in the last 3 years. I'm not sure what Apple is doing over there, but it's definitely not software inner workings of Siri.

After looking how Google Photos works automatically, I'm not sure what Apple is doing anymore to improve our lifes/save us time with software other than coming up with hardware designs.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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