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June 15, 2017

Everything you need to know about Facebook Messenger’s M assistant

by John_A

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Update: Facebook’s M Suggestions are now available in Spanish to users in the U.S., and is currently rolling out in Mexico. 

Notice a little “M” logo near the textbox in Facebook Messenger? It’s the social media network’s artificially-intelligent assistant that’s meant to offer suggestions in your conversations — similar to how Google Assistant can jump in to help in conversations via Allo. With the assistant officially rolled out across the U.S., it is now available in both English and Spanish to all Messenger users in the country.

M is now able to provide suggestions in Spanish — like sending payments or sharing your location — and the feature is gradually rolling out in Mexico for iOS and Android, Facebook told Digital Trends. If you’d like to receive M Suggestions in Spanish, you can change the preferred language to Spanish.

M itself is powered by Facebook-built AI, and so far works by popping up in your chats when it detects that it can help with something. For example, if you mention going somewhere, M can detect this and will offer up a quick way to book a ride with Uber or Lyft (you can set your preference) — all without leaving the Messenger app.

Before diving into what Facebook’s M can do, there are a few things to keep in mind. Most importantly, Facebook is still working on M and it’s likely the assistant will evolve a lot over the next few months and years. It will also roll out globally at some point as Facebook says users across the globe will “start seeing a redesigned way to compose messages.” If you want nothing to do with this AI revolution, or if you think M makes your conversations too cluttered, you can mute it by heading to Messenger’s settings — tap on the person icon on the top-right of Messenger’s main page, then tap M settings and toggle Suggestions off.

A lot of M’s functions are available in Facebook Messenger — simply tap on the “+” icon on the left, and you’ll be able to share your location, book a ride, plan an event, and more. All M does is take away an extra step, and it reminds you these features exist in Messenger. If M has indeed caught your eye, here’s a list of all the ways it can currently help in your conversations.

Stickers

best messenger bots f8 2017 m

Facebook’s M can help make using stickers a little easier, preventing the need to search through them. During your chats, M may suggest stickers relating to whatever you’re talking about. For example, if someone says goodbye, you may see a group of stickers depicting “goodbye,” like the image above. You can swipe left or right to hide these suggestions.

Location sharing

During a conversation, it might be appropriate to share your location with the other person in the chat. If you’re meeting up with a friend who asks where you are, M will suggest you share your location. It’s not hard to share your location without M, too. Tap the “+” icon on the left and scroll to Location. You can share your real-time location for 60 minutes.

Settings reminders

Your phone probably has a way to set reminders, such as with Siri on iOS or Google Assistant on Android. Reminders with M will involve others, such as when a significant other or friend asks you to remind them of something. These are not location-based reminders, sadly, but just time-based.

Sending and requesting money

It has been possible to send money to friends with Messenger for a while, but M makes it easy. If someone mentions sending or requesting money, M will ask members of the conversation if they want to follow through. It’s really pretty easy to use — but you will have to enter your payment information first. You can store your payment information beforehand by heading into Messenger’s settings and scrolling to Payments.

Planning Events

Facebook M can also help you plan out events. Perhaps the easiest way that it does so is by looking for things like restaurants nearby — so if the assistant sees you planning to meet up with a friend, it will let you create an event with a name, date, and time.

Hail a ride


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Along with helping you plan where you want to go, M can help you get there too. When you’re planning to meet up with a friend to go somewhere, M will suggest you book an Uber or Lyft, and it will help you through the booking process — you never have to leave Messenger.

Starting a poll

Last but not least is the ability to start a poll, however this option is only available in a group chat. If you’re asking a question in a group chat, for example, M might suggest a poll to more easily gather information.




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