It appears that Facebook is getting into the personal assistant space. In a post on the social network, vice president of messaging products David Marcus revealed that the company is testing M, a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger. There’s no specific timetable on when (or even if) the service will be released to the public.
Facebook joins a growing chorus of companies entering the personal assistant space. However, Marcus disputes that what his company is doing will be similar to anyone else: “Unlike other AI-based services in the market,” he wrote, “M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”
Marcus offers few details about the technology, but you’ll be able to ask for things like ordering flowers for your mother’s birthday, what are the best places to go hiking, and more.
It’s likely that the technology will pull information from your interests, Likes, location, check-ins, and more to provide you with relevant insights and information. It could also leverage the power of Facebook Search, which company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg disclosed completed 1.5 billion searches daily.
The addition of a personal digital assistant seems to mesh well with Messenger, especially as Marcus wants to show that the new Messenger Platform can work. Certainly the idea of being able to integrate with M could be enticing for developers, who may want to tap into Messenger and its 700 million monthly active users.
Additionally, we could see payments within Messenger be expanded beyond peers to helping users pay for goods and services through the app. If you’re looking for shoes and M gives you an option, you can simply tap “get” and the personal assistant will put in the order and process your payments for you.
Personal assistant technology seems to be the thing now, but there is a wide market spread. For example, the virtual assistants from Google and Apple have incredible dominance in the space — you can’t avoid having Siri or Google Now. Then there are those like Assist, Operator, and Magic, which contain a human component. Marcus believes that M will be different because it’s a combination of human and computer technology.
We’ve reached out to Facebook for additional comment and will update if we hear more.