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Facebook Unveils M, A Virtual Assistant Inside Messenger That's Partly People Powered

Facebook is getting in on the digital assistant game currently occupied by the likes of Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. But the social network is taking a different approach with M, the name of its virtual pal. This little helper waits around inside Messenger to answer your questions, and in those instances when its algorithms can't come up with a solution, there are real people working behind the scenes who can.

That's right, Facebook says that M's artificial intelligence is trained and supervised by real people. This partially confirms the Moneypenny rumor circulating last month that the company was developing a digital assistant of its own.

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Report: Facebook Is Working On A Personal Assistant Called 'Moneypenny' To Compete With Google Now, Possibly Use Humans To Perform For-Fee Tasks

According to an anonymously-sourced report from The Information, Facebook is working on their own entry into the virtual assistant market. Unlike Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, however, early indications are that Moneypenny—the current name used internally to refer to Facebook's offering—could be more service-oriented than the machine-driven, contextually-aware competition.

It is expected to be integrated with Messenger, but it would likely be a waste if it were not a part of Facebook's web and mobile interface as well.

At this point, details are very sparse. The Information speculates that Moneypenny may resemble startups like Magic and GoButler, which use humans to fulfill user requests for a fee.

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You Can Now Sign Up For Facebook Messenger Without A Facebook Account

Facebook would really appreciate it if you would help them take over the world. You know, if you're not too busy or anything. To that end, they've decided to make Facebook Messenger (recently graduated from a simple social network feature to a quasi-platform) truly stand on its own. So now you can use Facebook Messenger even if you're not one of the billion or so people with a Facebook account - or even if you are, and you don't want to associate your account with your messages.


Facebook made the announcement in its official Newsroom blog, encouraging new users to simply use their phone numbers to create a Messenger profile.

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Facebook Messenger Becomes The 10th Android App With Enough Installs To Join The Billionaire Club

"Don't forget me, guys," Facebook Messenger said as it scooted in through the door that nearly closed in its face.

"Sorry, didn't see you coming," YouTube said. "You have one billion views?"

"Installs, and yes," Gmail said, putting down a bottle of something expensive and walking over. "See?"

Screenshot 2015-06-09 at 2.19.56 PM

"It was only a matter of time," Gmail, the oldest member of the club, continued. "I started drafting Messenger's invite back when Facebook first got in."

Gmail gestured its glass towards the table where Facebook was seated, networking with a couple of apps it didn't like.

"Yeah, I never received that message," Facebook Messenger said.

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Facebook Messenger Now Lets You Send Locations As Messages

The Facebook app takes a lot of heat (and with good reason), but the Facebook Messenger app is actually pretty alright at what it does. There's a new feature rolling out to this app today that lets you send a location to your friends as a message. It doesn't even have to be your location, just a location.


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Touchless Chat Lets You Send And Reply To Messages On Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, And More Using Just Your Voice

joaomgcd's apps are usually about pushing your phone to do more with just your voice and some Google Now command integration, and Touchless Chat is no exception. The app takes the idea of interacting with your phone via voice commands and applies it to one area where I personally wished Google Now and Wear were better: sending messages to your contacts (ie initiating a conversation instead of just replying).

There are many layers to Touchless Chat and many ways of initiating a chat with a contact, but before we get into that, you'll need to give the app some permissions, mainly for accessibility, notification access, and device administrator. That's a lot of leeway, but it's the only way the app can work, so just be thankful that it doesn't require root as well.

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Facebook Messenger Will Now Provide Background On Strangers And Friends You Don't Talk With Often At The Beginning Of Chats

Beep. Hmm, someone's messaging me on Facebook.

Checks notification.

"Hey!!! How's life?"

Great, who is this person? "... Do I know you?"

"OMG F U MAN!!1!"

Okay, maybe the strangers messaging you weren't quite as hostile, but we've all been there. A stranger wants to chat, and now you're left contemplating how to respond.

Well, according to TechCrunch, Facebook Messenger is rolling out a way to help users better deal with this issue in France, India, the UK, and the US. Now when non-friends start a conversation, a brief bio will appear at the top of the chat. You will see their name, the city they've entered into their Facebook account, and any other biographical information they've made publicly available.

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Facebook Messenger's Video Calling Feature Is Now Available Worldwide


Facebook Adds Free Video Calling To Messenger App, No Update Required

Facebook Messenger is adding a feature that, if you didn't use it, you would expect to already have. With today's addition of video chat capability, it has parity with the desktop chat interface that has long supported this. As a server-side switch, you should have this available so long as you are using a reasonably new version of the app.


As you see in the image above, there is a camera icon at the top of the conversation that will initiate the video chat. You might also notice that Facebook is very proud that iOS and Android devices will be able to communicate with one another from the start.

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Facebook Publishes A Handful Of Android Apps For Its New Messenger Platform

Facebook's internal instant messenger isn't so internal now: it's a stand-alone app platform that will operate in conjunction with the social network, and developers of every flavor can integrate their apps with Messenger. Naturally the first apps to take advantage of this come from Facebook itself: new apps include Selfied, Shout, Sound Clips, and Strobe, and the older Stickered app has been updated, all with the "for Messenger" label.

They're simple little tools or toys that add a bit of fun to Messenger. Let's have a quick look:


This one is pretty self-explanatory. (Sorry.) In addition to injecting standard self-portraits into your Messenger conversations, Selfied will allow you to take multiple shots and assign them to various "moods." It basically replaces emoticons with your face.

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