Kathryn Lindsay
August 27, 2015 6:00 am

If you’re one of a select few hundred Bay Area Facebook users, you might want to log on to Messenger right now. Facebook is rolling out a soft launch of their new virtual personal assistant, known simply as “M,” for a small number of users — and we’re totally jealous.

We knew this was coming. We knew that M, Facebook’s version of Siri, was named after Moneypenny from the James Bond series. We knew it would be super helpful for trying to find a product, connecting you straight to retailers and services. But we didn’t know it would be this awesome.

For instance, M is not just a robot. Yes, it’s powered by artificial intelligence, but it’s supported by real experts, called M trainers, who make sure the app is responding to every single request and doing its job correctly.

This is Facebook’s effort to bypass not just Siri, but even Google. Rather than turning to search engines, Facebook wants you to turn to M. And why wouldn’t you when it’s reportedly so easy?

Here’s how the magic happens. First, you load up Facebook Messenger and press a button at the bottom of the screen. Then, you simply type your question. M responds with follow-up questions based on your language and keywords, and will send you updates as your request is dealt with. The more you use it, the more it learns.

And, bonus! It’s not just shopping. While the early hype for the feature was all about getting connected with necessary services, those with early access have been using the assistant for everything from restaurant recommendations to even waiting on hold with companies. There’s event planning, decorating tips, and surprises (like sending you flowers after you asked how to deal with a breakup).

M sometimes seems to know what you want even before you do, prompting certain actions, and covering all your bases. Are you looking for some good Mexican food? Why not let M make a reservation? Did you pick up more shampoo yet? Let M find your nearest drugstore. It’s the speed and ease of a machine combined with the personal touch of a human, making for what can only be a perfect customer service experience — not a phrase you hear often!

The success of this small launch can only mean something good. The service will expand over time, albeit slowly, until everyone has the option at their fingertips. From what we’ve heard so far, M is definitely worth the wait.

(Images via Facebook.)

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