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Facebook brings polls to group chats, adds AI driven payment suggestions

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Facebook has provided its messenger application with another shot of Artificial Intelligence. The company is adding two brand new features for its users, on both iOS and Android platforms in the US. The features aren’t particularly huge, but are still useful in their own way.

First up is the Polls feature.  As the name implies, the feature lets you chalk out a question or a statement, write a few possible answers/opinions, and then send them to everyone in a group chat, where all the members of the group will be able to vote on it.

Facebook has been flirting back and forth with Polls since back in the day. The company first launched Polls in 2007, only to close it after a short duration. It then followed up with Facebook Questions in 2011. However, that didn’t work out too well either and the company shut it down soon after. It finally went with  my recommendations option, which wasn’t deemed to be terribly useful either and limited to events.

Well, it appears like Polls has finally found the perfect roost for itself. The idea behind adding it to groups on messenger is to let all the members of the group reach a collective decision on something. So if you are trying to organize get together, parties, meetings etc. well, you know what to do. Just ask all the members for a vote. Cause that is the democratic way after all.

Next up is the Chat Assist feature. And this by the way, is a pretty cool implementation of Machine Learning technology. The chat assist feature hunts for statements that talk about money in your conversations. Whenever it reaches a sentence such as “You need to pay me $10” or “I will pay you $200”, it stops to offer you a payment button.

You can then click on the button to initiate payment to the person at the other end of the conversation. Simply choose a card that is already connected to the messenger or enter a new debit card number to initiate payments. This will mean that people won’t have to jump around and switch applications to initiate payments and will be able to complete transactions without ever leaving the messenger.

With over a billion users, Facebook messenger has huge potential for almost everything. There is a ready made user base to try out literally everything you can throw at them. And when it is something as commonly used as payments or polls, well, all the better. The users get more functionalities and more reasons to keep using the messenger while Facebook gets greater customer engagement and more ways to leverage its platform for profit.


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