Intelligent personal assistants are the new thing now and as a proof is the fact that four major tech companies have jumped on it. It all started when Apple introduced Siri on the iPhone 4S back in 2011. The following year we saw the arrival of Google Now, and Microsoft unveiled Cortana on April 2nd, 2014. You may not have heard of it before, but Facebook is also onto this business, having announced M, their own digital assistant, bundled together with Facebook Messenger – if you are curious, M is short for Moneypenny, that lady from James Bond, and not Messenger itself. Basically, they all perform similar tasks by using natural language recognition to answer some of your questions, bring in information and perform actions. You can already use Google Now, Siri and Cortana but Facebook's M is not yet available for everyone, being tested with a small number of users instead. So, if you are curious to see how it works, BuzzFeed reporter Alex Kantrowitz was lucky enough to get access to M, and shared the results online, which we bring it summarized to you.
M works in a slightly different way than its competitors, as you have to type your requests on a Messenger conversation as if you were talking to a real person. While Google Now, Siri and Cortana give you results right away, M may take a while, but it's worth the wait since it brings up more contextual information. It started simple, with questions like "Are you human?", without a convincing sign of intelligence. Then things got a bit trickier, with Kantrowitz asking for vegetarian food within 5 blocks. After a few minutes, it came up with one single option, as opposing to the other assistants, which will usually give you a full list of restaurants with scores and stars. He then asked for a Yelp review of that restaurant, and it came right after. Then the most complex iteration came in: "Can you tell me how much it will cost to fly from San Francisco to New York on Thanksgiving week?" Surprisingly and creepingly enough, M looked for fares, showed him the cheapest ones on these dates, but also suggested him to alter the dates to get an even cheaper flight. In the end, it gave him the cheaper flight, booked it with the payment being made on Messenger, sent the receipt, a confirmation email, a calendar alert and agreed to not save his information for future use.
This is a pretty interesting interaction as it is completely different from what we are used to seeing on Google Now, Siri and Cortana, which work similarly. However, these assistants are deeply integrated with their respective OS's and this is something Facebook's M isn't. However, other than opening apps and playing around with a smartphone's hardware, the possibilities are endless and it will be interesting to see how Google, Apple, and Microsoft will improve their software to match some of M features. You can check out the full "conversation" on the source link, and we have bundled the screenshots in a gallery right below. It is important to note that while in tests, Facebook M is currently available only on iOS for now.