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Facebook virtual assistant to offer suggestions during Messenger chat

Facebook has announced that virtual assistance M powered by artificial intelligence will launch in the US to provide suggestions during Messenger.

M offers suggestions by popping into an open conversation to suggest relevant content and capabilities to enrich the way people communicate and get things done.

Product Managers Laurent Landowski and Kemal El Moujahid made the announcement in a blog post reminding that M was announced over a year ago as a small AI experiment powered by humans that could fulfill almost any request.

Messenger learnt a lot during these interactions which helped build a completely automated version of M that suggests helpful actions in chat, exposing features users may not have known were available in Messenger.

The suggestions from M have been tested with a small percentage of users for the past few months after which it was expanded to all users in the US.

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The suggestions from M appear when it recognizes intent in a conversation and will include the following actions:

  • Sending stickers: M shares fun sticker suggestions for daily life interactions like “Thank you” or “Bye-bye.”
  • Paying or requesting money: M recognizes when people are discussing payments and gives them the option of easily sending or requesting money.
  • Sharing location: M can suggest an option to share user’s location during a conversation.
  • Making plans: If people are talking about getting together, M helps coordinating a plan.
  • Starting a poll (in group conversations only): Have a hard time making decisions in a group? M lets users set a poll topic and vote in group conversations.
  • Getting a Ride: Talking about going somewhere? M suggests “Get A Ride” and shares an option of Lyft or Uber.

M relies on AI machine learning techniques and suggests relevant actions to help manage conversations or help get things done, and support and enhance Messenger experience and make it more useful, personal and seamless.

M may make a suggestion in a conversation relevant to one of the core actions listed above, and then the M logo and suggestion will appear. And M learns: the more it is used, the more it can help. Users have the option to ignore or dismiss a suggestion that is not helpful, and users can also mute M’s assistance

As suggestions from M start to roll out to users in the US, Messenger users across the globe will also start to see a redesigned way to compose messages.

This update offers an easier way to access and discover Messenger features like visual messaging tools and the ability to quickly share video and images directly from the text composer with a long press.

Messenger has also added a “More” tab access Messenger features such as Games, Payments, Share Location and Rides.

M has launched to all iOS and Android users in the US and will eventually roll out to other countries, and is seen as the start of a proactive, helpful and useful assistant for the one billion Messenger users.

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