Facebook executives didn’t talk much on the F8 developer conference stage in the past day about its under-construction virtual assistant, “M,” which lives inside Messenger and is available only to a limited number of people. But M will be crucial for Facebook to achieve its goal of usurping Apple’s app store as a gateway to mobile services.
Here is how: Facebook hopes M will be the interface people use to access new services on the platform. Instead of downloading an app to book a flight, you’ll just tell M to do so. And then M will use machine-learning (and, possibly, humans at first) to figure out what services on Messenger are needed to complete the booking.