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Facebook M is finally rolling out — here’s what it can do

facebook m features
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Notice a little “M” logo near the textbox in Facebook Messenger recently? 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. M has been in development for some time now, but we’re seeing wider roll out of the assistant across the U.S.

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

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.