Life Tech Facebook targets Apple, Google with assistant app
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Facebook targets Apple, Google with assistant app

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Facebook is the latest technology giant to delve into the world of an artificial intelligence program that acts as a virtual assistant.

The personal digital assistant – dubbed “M” – completes tasks along with seeking out information at the behest of users.

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This is what the M function can do.
This is what the M function can do.

You can literally ask the device to do things for you – like ordering flowers, tips for travelling, where to eat and buying presents.

“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf,” Facebook’s David Marcus said in an online post.

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

Marcus described the test as an early step in a journey toward building a large-scale service using the virtual assistant software.

M works quite differently to other personalised technological assistants in that correspondence with M occurs within a messenger conversation.

From questions the user asks, M’s artificial intelligence, or a real person, will answer and ask follow up questions.

There are more than 700 million worldwide users of Facebook’s messenger app worldwide. There is no official release date to all users, however it said everyone would get free use at some stage.

Word of M came just two days after Microsoft made its Cortana virtual assistant software available to users of Android mobile devices.

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, which respond to voice commands on mobile devices.

The launch is part of an effort by Microsoft to expand its mobile presence despite a weak showing for its Windows Phone devices.

Facebook hope other companies, like PayPal, choose to build into the technology to help streamline the service.

– with AAP

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