Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Facebook Messenger’s M assistant now suggests saving links, calling people

Messenger’s Siri-like virtual assistant, M, is getting more helpful.

Roughly three months after rolling out M Suggests to facilitate people doing things through Facebook’s messaging service, like sending money or ordering a Lyft, Messenger is adding a few new suggestions, like bookmarking links, making calls and saying “happy birthday,” for users in the US.

Now when people paste a link into a conversation on Messenger, M will offer an option to save it to check out later. That suggestion will apply to web links as well as links to videos, Facebook posts, Facebook event listings and Facebook Pages.

“What we’ve noticed is that oftentimes you’re in the middle of a conversation and don’t have time to go through the content [shared in that conversation], so what M will suggest is for you to save this content for later,” said Kemal El Moujahid, a product manager at Messenger.

People will be able to access their saved content by using a new Messenger-made Chat Extension that people can pull up by clicking the “+” button atop the in-app keyboard; Messenger rolled out Chat Extensions in April as a way to have approved bots assist non-bot conversations. In addition to using the extension to view saved links later, people can also use the extension to add these saved links to messages in Messenger.

People can access their saved links using Messenger’s new “Saved” chat extension.

The new saved content suggestion and corresponding chat extension could make people more aware of the chat extensions that Messenger began rolling out in April so that people could share Spotify songs or book restaurant reservations through OpenTable without exiting the app. Surfacing somewhat hidden Messenger features is one of the reasons the service rolled out M Suggestions in the first place.

“There’s obviously this dimension of there’s this very useful feature inside Messenger — Messenger’s this very rich app — and you won’t necessarily either know or think of using this feature when you’re interacting with your contacts,” said El Moujahid. For example, people may not have known they could send their friends’ money through Messenger before Messenger rolled out an M Suggestion for doing so in April.

People may also not know they can call and even video-call their friends using Messenger, which originated as a text-messaging service. To make people more aware of those features, M will recognize when someone in a one-on-one or group conversation wants to hop on the phone and ask if a person wants to make that call through Messenger. M’s call suggestions will not appear when a person is messaging with a business account or chatbot, said El Moujahid.

And because Facebook doesn’t notify people about their friends’ birthdays enough, now if you’re messaging with someone on their birthday, M will nudge you to wish them a happy birthday, with options to send a birthday sticker or pseudo-card that adds a birthday frame to a photo or video of themselves.

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Author: Tim Peterson

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