After rolling out their Virtual Assistant M to Messenger users in the US in April, Facebook has today announced M is ready to come down under.
Not only is M available in Australia from today, it’s also launching in Canada, South Africa and the U.K.
If you’re not familiar, M is Facebook Messengers virtual assistant, it has a host of functions which it will offer by popping into your active chats to offer suggestions like stickers, location sharing and more. Facebook says that M uses machine learning to enable it to better understand your preferences and refine suggestions making sure they’re relevant and personalised.
Facebook has been working on the functions M can provide since its US debut, with the list of functions now on offer including:
- Sending stickers – M shares fun sticker suggestions for your daily life interactions like “Thank you” or “Bye-bye.”
- Sharing location – If someone asks “where are you” or if you say something like “on my way!”, M can suggest that you share your location during a conversation.
- Making a plan – If people are talking about getting together, M helps with coordinating a plan.
- Creating a poll (in group conversations only) – Have a hard time making decisions in a group? M lets you set a poll topic and vote in group conversations.
- Birthdays – If the person you are talking with in a one-on-one thread on Messenger has a birthday, M will surface a suggestion to send them a Birthday Wish— a birthday sticker, wish, card, or video with accompanying birthday art effects.
- Saved – M will proactively suggest that people save content in their Messenger conversations, which they can read, watch or share later. In addition to URLs, M can suggest saving other content such as videos, Facebook posts, events, and pages. And with the Messenger ‘Saved’ extension you can easily share content in 1:1 or group messages.
- Initiating call/video – If people are chatting 1:1 or in a group and express intent to make a call, M will suggest a voice or video call in Messenger. So, for example, if someone says “want to call me?” M will surface this suggestion.
In the US there are more functions such as calling Uber or Lyft, making it a little more useful day to day while on the move.
There’s literally been no personalisation for the introduction of M into Australia, though Facebook says they have done testing with a limited number of Australians. Instead of personalising it, Facebook is relying on their AI to get smarter the more you use it, saying ‘it learns what you do and don’t like and shows suggestions accordingly’.
Facebook has a number of automated features like Bots in use in Messenger and it appears the messaging client is fast becoming a whole lot more, sort of like Allo…but actually useful.