Facebook delays smart speaker announcement as data privacy scrutiny continues: report

Facebook app on phone

Facebook has delayed announcing smart speakers expected to be powered by the ‘M’ AI assistant currently available on its Messenger platform, according to a CNBC report.

The social media giant allegedly planned to announce the speakers at its F8 conference in San Jose, California on Tuesday May 1st, but decided to delay the announcement because of its recent data privacy issues.

CNBC’s report also stated that Facebook is toying with the idea of an international release before a U.S. release. Launching internationally could give the speakers an advantage in markets where competitors’ speakers are weaker.

The rumoured speakers are an answer to the popular Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers. Bloomberg first reported on the project in August 2017, but the ‘living room chat device’ has since become two devices, an Amazon Echo-like speaker and a more expensive device with a screen like the Amazon Echo Show, according to a report by Cheddar.

Facebook’s M assistant  started life as a virtual assistant bot inside of Messenger that was part AI and part human powered. Humans trained and oversaw the assistant, taking over when someone asked M a query it couldn’t handle.

Facebook shut down M in January, but the assistant was reborn inside of Messenger conversations. It can analyze chats and make suggestions to help coordinate plans with friends, start polls, share your location and more.

On Tuesday Facebook announced that M will be able to help translate conversations from within Messenger.

Combined with Facebook’s work in speech recognition for generating video captions automatically and for asking Oculus Rift questions, it’s not a far leap to a smart speaker.

Source: CNBC