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Facebook Messenger getting a Siri-like assistant called ‘M’

Facebook has announced it is testing a new personal assistant called M, which will sit inside the standalone Messenger app.

The new Siri, Cortana and Google Now rival is powered by artificial intelligence, but supervised by people according to product manager David Marcus. That means the information users will receive will in part be generated by actual humans.

The built-in service will find information and complete tasks on behalf of the user, Marcus said. Where it seems to differ from Siri in the like is the ‘completing’ tasks part.

So, whereas Siri will tell you a great place to order gifts, make restaurant reservations, etc., M will enable users to complete the order within the app. This will likely be assisted by Facebook already having plenty of users’ payment details through the Facebook Payments scheme.

In a post on his personal page, he said: “Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf.

It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”

Marcus didn’t go into detail on how exactly Facebook’s solution will work, but presumably that will come as the AI gets smarter.

Facebook M

He added: “This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service. But it’s an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what’s important in their lives.”

The personal assistant space is becoming increasingly competitive with Cortana and Google Now competing on multiple platforms, while Siri will bring plenty improvements with the new ‘Proactive’ tool in iOS 9.

See also: iOS 9 New Features

Presence within Facebook Messenger will bring the M assistant to more than 700 million users, once it’s fully out in the wild.

However, the roll out of the new M service is likely to be slow, so if you see it appear within your Messenger app, give us a holler in the comments section and let us know what you think.

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