Facebook has decided to shut down its text-based virtual assistant called ‘M’. The decision comes after two and a half years of its launch. According to a report by The Verge, ‘M’ was available through a bot on Facebook Messenger and it was available to only about 2,000 people. ‘M’ was first introduced in August 2015. The final day of the virtual assistant will be January 19. “We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot,” Facebook said. “We’re taking these useful insights to power other AI projects at Facebook. We continue to be very pleased with the performance of ‘M’ suggestions in Messenger, powered by our learnings from this experiment.” Facebook had described ‘M’ as a “beta” and suggested the human-powered assistant would be available for more users.
Meanwhile, Facebook is taking a major step toward its goal of getting one billion people using virtual reality. Oculus, the VR company that Facebook bought for $2 billion back in 2014, announced plans on Monday to launch its first VR headset in China as part of a partnership with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. The new Oculus headset, called Mi VR Standalone, is essentially the same headset as Oculus Go, a standalone headset that Oculus first unveiled in October.
The key difference is between the Go and the Mi VR is that Xiaomi, not Facebook, will provide all of the headset’s software. This is a key distinction, considering that Facebook’s core service is blocked in China because of censorship issues.
Launching as a hardware partner with Xiaomi means Facebook can dip a toe into China without having to deal with censorship issues, or storing user data and information. The new headset was unveiled at a press conference alongside Qualcomm, another Oculus partner, at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas as part of the week-long CES event set to take over the city this week.