According to Facebook, chatbots were going to change the way we get things done. Users were meant to be able to to buy flowers, order fast food and check in with their bank without ever having to leave the Messenger app. The company quickly dialed back its enthusiasm, admitting that they were somewhat overhyped, but its core technology, M, still underpins Messenger today.
Most of that functionality has been limited to the US, but this week Facebook has brought what it calls "M Suggestions" to the UK, allowing users to enjoy recommendations from its AI-powered personal assistant.
Facebook's M assistant is designed to pop up when it feels it can deliver content or provide timesaving advice inside an open Messenger chat. This might include a sticker, which allows users to quickly sign off a conversation without having to open the keyboard, or an offer to share someone's whereabouts when they're asked "where are you?"
Other suggestions include the option for friends to create a plan, which Facebook inevitably offers to coordinate, start a group poll, make in-app video calls and save content inside Messenger conversations, which can be read, watched or shared later. A little M logo will appear to notify the user of the suggestion, which can also be dismissed if it's in the way.
For users who are constantly dipping in and out of the Messenger app, M will likely provide a couple of timesaving suggestions. After all, it's actively listening out for relevant keywords and taking a very small load off their hands. For others, it'll be something they'll never likely interact with, unless they've forgotten about someone's birthday and need a reminder to pass on their best wishes.