Facebook has announced a range of new features for Messenger.
The social network says it wants to make the app more like the Yellow Pages and, in doing so, it will make it easier for users to get in touch with businesses.
Unfortunately, this means that businesses will also be able to pester users more easily than ever.
A new tab in Messenger called Discover provides a straightforward way for users to “find the businesses they care about”. It sounds like an app store for chat bots.
Through Chat Extensions, multiple users in a group conversation can chat to a company at the same time, by adding a bot from the likes of Spotify, TheScore, OpenTable, Food Network, NBA, Wall Street Journal and Kayak to the thread.
The most intrusive new addition involves M, the Messenger virtual assistant that’s currently only available in the US.
It can now interrupt your conversations with suggestions, based around what you and your friends are talking about.
“These include fun stickers to say ‘thank you,’ a reminder to meet up with a friend, or an easy way to pay someone back or get paid via P2P payments,” says Facebook.
“Powered by artificial intelligence, M recognizes when people are doing specific tasks and provides helpful suggestions.”
While the new features should prove useful, for sharing songs in a conversation through Spotify, for instance, they could also become annoying, like an over-eager assistant.
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“We think the next step is to offer people more ways to do more – so today M can now offer the ability to order food through delivery.com. If you’re chatting with friends about what to grab for dinner, M may suggest placing an order.”
The entire ordering and payment process can be completed right in Messenger.
Facebook has also explained over the past year.
The company wants to make “the camera the first augmented reality platform”, and envisions a future in which users transform real-world objects using their cameras and 3D effects.