The social media giant is seemingly on a never-ending quest provide virtually everything, so Facebook’s M will be at your service soon enough as your personal digital assistant. But not quite fully digital.
Unlike popular AI assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri or Google Now, the Facebook personal assistant, dubbed simply as “M”, will feature one unique quality: it will not be completely computer based. In fact, there will be people on the other end of your question that will answer accordingly when the AI simply can’t.
It will perhaps widen the window of opportunity and offer much more sophisticated uses, such as making a reservation and ordering an array of things online for you, buying and having them sent to your home. The ‘M trainers’ behind the Messenger app will be keeping an ear perked for your requests and questions, because there’s only so much an AI can do.
It will set apart Facebook’s M from all its competition, according to its vice president David Marcus, by adding the human element in an era where computers can’t precisely cater to our every need just yet.
However, there is a huge flaw in the design that might turn an otherwise interesting feature into a flop. M is not voice activated, and instead will require the user to type in his or her requests and questions, unless they choose to use the voice-to-text feature of the Facebook Messenger. It will gravely limit its use, if the latter does not see an improvement.
Because, let’s face it, it could be potentially redundant to type in dinner reservations into your Facebook Messenger, instead of going online and achieving the same with a few clicks or even calling the restaurant yourself. Google already provides an easy access to that.
The social tech giant’s upcoming project is also suffering from the fact that, unlike Cortana and Siri, it does not have its own operating system to back it up. It can be a potentially major mistake to attempt competing with already established digital person assistants who have their own homes. Of course, Facebook might always surprise us by developing its own OS one day. Nothing can be thought as ‘unreachable’ for the company.
Facebook’s M, which might either stand for “messenger”, or has the fancier James Bond implication, can be activated by tapping the tiny button on the lower part of the app. It works precisely like sending messages to friends, only users will be sending them to the assistant or the assistants of the assistant.
Either way, a bigger array of questions might be better answered in the future once the feature comes out of its beta.
Image source: wired.com