Google doesn’t know who your friends are, who you chat with, or what news you care about.
Just like how Facebook doesn’t know what’s in your email, what directions you map, what you web search for, or what’s going on in your Android phone. That’s why the two have huge but very different opportunities when it comes to building a personal assistant.
Google Now does what Google’s good at: Crunching big data sets from its ubiquitous utilities to efficiently provide actionable information. Google’s domination in search, email, and maps unlocks this potential. Now is frequently helpful, though not always what you’d consider “interesting”.
Facebook did recently start testing M, a concierge feature that lets you use Messenger to send requests and chores to a hybrid system of human brains and artificial intelligence. But today Facebook launched what could be considered the closest thing it has to a traditional personal digital assistant inside the Notifications tab…it just didn’t name it.
To me, this is Facebook Here. It’s a personal assistant that knows about everything around you — the people, places, and things you care about.
I spotted early tests of the feature last year when it was a “Highlights” section in the Friend Requests tab. Starting slowly today on iOS and Android in the U.S., below your traditional notifications, Facebook Here will show cards for:
And if you let Facebook track your location history, you’ll also get:
You can customize these new sets of cards to add or hide what you want, and control which can send you notifications.
But the potential for Here to soak up your attention is classic Facebook. And if Facebook can sear Here into our behavior patterns, it could also one day monetize that attention with sponsored cards of branded information. Imagine a business paying to be the top suggestion for a nearby restaurant.
Apple and Google built humble assistants that hide until you need them. Facebook has built a loud-and-proud second feed of content created by AI right next to its primary News Feed of content created by humans. And it’s right Here, in front of your Face.