Facebook launches M, the new smart assistant

02.06.2017 - Veronica Frattaruolo

Integrated in Messenger, the “virtual butler” of social network will monitor the conversations to offer you useful advice, services, and shortcuts. Driven by machine learning, the bot is currently available only on invitation in the US, for Android and iOs devices.

It took more than two years of work, but M today is reality. The new virtual assistant integrated into Facebook Messenger is powered by artificial intelligence. The rollout will be gradual and no expansion plans have been announced on other markets at the moment, but it is likely (if not certain) that M will be brought in other Anglo-Saxon countries.

The new Facebook assistant, like other similar services such as Siri and Cortana, provides a set of contextual tools to speed up daily activities. Directly integrated in the chat, it can understand the conversation trend in order to suggest relevant content: share location, send stickers, poll in group chats, offer services like ride sharing, Uber, Lyft, and so on.

Two years ago, when it was revealed for the first time, M was "fed" by a team of internal flesh and bones on Facebook - a different strategy from that of the competitors, that in these months served to Menlo Park to refine machine learning technologies as much as possible and to develop an efficient server.

"We've learned a lot and these interactions have allowed us to design a completely automated version of M, that suggests useful actions in the chat, it shows a series of Messenger features that maybe people did not know before" Laurent Landowski and Kemal El Moujahid wrote in a post, two product managers of the Facebook messaging platform.

M's operation has been designed to be as discreet as possible. Once the assistant is activated (it is also possible to turn it off or limit it to certain areas), it will monitor the conversation and, when it will realize it can be useful, a small stylized M will appear in the window: taping on the icon you will be able to take more action without leaving the chat.

As explained by the California company, the more the users will resort to the assistant, the more it learn and it will be able to offer practical and valid advice. M is releasing both for Android devices and iOs, and the current beta version should be followed, perhaps within a dozen days, with the full release. 

Facebook launches M, the new smart assistant