Facebook reportedly working on voice assistant to rival Siri and Alexa

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It’s been awhile since we’ve a good story about Facebook, with the company’s recent exploits centred around how it handles misinformation on its platform.

There’s no hard and fast answer for that, but to distract you in the interim, reports suggest the company is working on a voice assistant akin or Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.

According to Reuters, it will take the guise of an AI-aided solution, with a specific focus on some of the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality devices that Facebook has been tinkering with of late.

“We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” wrote a Facebook spokesperson in an emailed response to the publication.

This follows an initial report by CNBC earlier this week in which the company’s AR and VR divisions are said to have started work on this yet-to-be-named assistant last year already. How far they are along in the process remains to be seen, which means we may have to wait for Facebook’s annual F8 conference later this month for a bit more information.

It’s also unclear if Facebook’s assistant will extend beyond its AR and VR products, especially if they are indeed intending it to rival the likes of Siri, Alexa or even Google Assistant, which all work on smartphones and smart speakers too.

It should also be noted that this isn’t the first time that Facebook has dabbled in the world of virtual assistants, with them launched the M Assistant for the Messenger app in 2015. That effort was ultimately cancelled following a mixed reception, so here’s hoping this latest attempt fares a bit better.

That said, will the addition of an AI-supported voice assistant make Facebook’s VR and VR products more tempting? We’ll have to wait and see.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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