Gone are the days when we thought that messaging apps were all the same. Apps such as WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Kik, KakaoTalk and even Facebook Messenger. Have over time slowly defined themselves either by their simplicity, how they connect to businesses, and other features.
Now it appears there’s a new kid on the block about to shake things up a notch. Facebook announced the launch of M, the company’s own personal assistant built right into Messenger. You’re probably thinking “OH Boy here we go again”. But hold on because this is a bit more radical than most personal assistant apps built into smartphones.
Rather than program M with artificial intelligence, Facebook actually has contracted real people to help M answer questions and requests while teaching the technology how to handle them automatically in the future.
The feature is still in early beta testing, so it’s hard to judge exactly how it would perform this task, but f they can pull it off, Facebook may actually make its’ Messenger app all-powerful in a way that its competitors have no chance against it.
Whilst digital assistants like Google Now and Siri are already available, they only provide preprogrammed answers and reminders. Apps the likes of Magic and Operator use humans to answer complex requests, then there are messaging apps that still look the same despite claiming that they’re different.
M has a foot in all three of these categories and combines the power of an all-powerful artificial intelligence lab, coupled with all the human interaction Facebook can afford and places it on top of its 700 million user Messenger app. What chance do these other apps have? Oh did I also mention that with both Messenger and WhatsApp under the company’s possession, Facebook has arguably the best ways to leverage a chat-based personal assistant? Well I just did.
Further use of M can be for Facebook to establish relationships with vendors and service providers, keeping a cut for themselves and make them M’s default option for certain requests. Then there’s advertising, where for example, the app would prompt you to message M and set up an appointment at a local barber or restaurant. Whatever use that Facebook has for M, the beauty of it is that they have no need to monetize M or Messenger directly. With competitors coming up with new ways to earn cash, all Facebook has to do is let their app handle the finances.