Earlier today Facebook launched their new M assistant service in Messenger on iOS and Android for the US (with other countries to come). Much like Google Assistant in Allo it's meant to drop in at convenient points in a conversation to give you shortcuts and tools to simplify things.
Facebook announced M well over a year ago, jumping a bit late on the bandwagon of personal assistants, but allegedly theirs is at least partially driven or overseen by real living human beings, which sets it apart from the others in no small way. If they manage to leverage enough other modern tech buzzwords like AI, machine learning, and perhaps some synergy for flavor, it may even be of some use. In any event, we knew it was being added to Messenger, and it's finally here.
M brings us quick shortcuts like sending money, stickers, planning events, sharing location, or hailing a rideshare. Just like Google Assistant, it's able to make suggestions based on the content of messages you send and receive. For the privacy-conscious having that information sent anywhere other than the intended recipient might be reason for pause, but if you're using Facebook's Messenger then those messages are already passing through so many places outside of your control it's probably not a significant concern.
I know what at least some of you are thinking. You see Facebook and Messenger and yawn, but M in Messenger actually fills a pretty tremendous niche and solves probably the largest problem that accompanies UI/UX design: discovery. Where and how do you find what you want (or even know what you want) within an interface? We're long past the days of depending on any real accuracy in pictograms, and skeuomorphism really only helps our grandparents these days. So, in this new elegant era of minimalism, how do you find what you need? The beautiful and terrifying predictive power of tools like M and Google Assistant might just be the answer.
- Facebook Newsroom