Ever since Facebook split Messenger from its flagship app (a move that wasn't everyone's favorite), the company has been making addition after addition to its core functionality. It's pretty clear that Facebook wants Messenger to wear many hats.
Today, the company has unveiled the robot hat.
Facebook Messaging head David Marcus has pulled the cover off M, Facebook's ambitious new addition to Messenger that serves as "a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf." We heard reports of this last month (when it was codenamed "Moneypenny").
According to Marcus, M is powered by AI but "supervised by people."
"Unlike other AI-based services in the market, 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," he says.
M is clearly Facebook's answer to Siri and Cortana, Apple and Microsoft's respective personal assistants. But Facebook's M has the benefit of cross-platform reach, especially considering Facebook Messenger is now globally available to anyone with a phone number.
Facebook has been hard at work turning Messenger into something way more than a texting app.
The company turned it into a developer platform, allowing appmakers to build directly for the platform. More germane to the news of M, Facebook is trying to turn Messenger into a platform to connect businesses with their customers – for the purposes of customer service, order tracking, and more.
Marcus says Facebook is "beginning to test" M. Considering what it is – a massive AI project that's at least for now dependent upon human oversight – and also considering how unbelievably slow Facebook is when it comes to some product rollouts, I wouldn't expect to see M pop up in your Messenger contacts that soon.