In 2016 Facebook launched their Messenger bots under a big promotion and although the adoption has not been super great, the messenger platform has been continually improving! However, one thing totally absent from the Facebook strategy is the voice assistant game and it becomes even more clear when Google launched their Duplex product that Facebook does not have anything related.
But why is that?
It seems so weird that facebook does not have a single Speech-to-Text functionality! With the messenger app, it is possible to send a voice memo, but that only sends a sound clip which is pretty inconvenient for the receiver as it has to be listen to and can’t be searched. You can use the built in Speech To Text keyboards functionality but they are built so they are not aware of the app which makes them not ideal.
What do they have?
Mark Zuckerberg hack week
The CEO of facebook do think that voice is interesting as he showed in his “hack-project”, where he made his own Jarvis that maybe for promotion was in the person of Morgan Freeman. All this was way back in 2016!
The Oculus team is a pretty integrated part of facebook and they recently released the Oculus Go which had been announced for half a year. Inside the Oculus Go you have a voice search functionality that works really well, although pretty limited for a “voice-assistant” though!
Rumors about a speakers
There are some rumors about a speaker called Aloha, but with that much secrecy that is not normal by Facebook I don’t see it actually launched soon also without any leaks. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/14/facebook-smart-speakers-aloha-and-fiona-launch-in-july-digitimes-says.html
I think the reason is ..
simply that they have had projects going but if you are going to launch a product that is not as good as the competitors then I think they decided not to! If they have built it into the messenger app earlier it would not have been a big deal but since they haven’t launched it later makes it seem vague and that is not something facebook have needed during recent “supposedly” crises.
I think they should launch a small feature and not have it be a competitor to the voice assistant but be something else, something simple.
What could be the solution
The voice assistant game is interesting, it seems like people are either going like Siri and Google Assistant on the phone, where you have to conform into a new interface or making an interface-less device like the Alexa, no middle-ground where you would be using your already most-used-apps messaging platforms.
I imagine it would work like this:
A easy and simple way for facebook to get started would be to add a simple voice activation button, when you pressed that, it would begin the Speech-to-text and you would be able to press Send maybe even say “Send”. The messenger app should then suggest if you want the replies read up as well as they come in! And during this, the app would continuously listen for new messages that you want to speak!
This would be awesome and it would be a fantastic way for Facebook bot developers to make useful and interactive bots and it would give facebook a way to get started on the voice assistant game, without having it be a disaster like Siri or without an interface like Alexa!