Facebook debuts Messenger AR and translation tools for businesses

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As expected, Facebook announced a few updates to its messaging platform at F8 2018, including improvements to M, its digital assistant, and new ways for businesses to engage with customers through augmented reality.

The new feature, which is being tested in closed beta, will allow a roster of four select companies - ASUS, Nike, Kia, and Sephora - to show users a preview of something they want to buy beforehand using augmented reality, technology that superimposes a computer generated image onto the real world. This feature - launching in closed beta - leverages the nature of messaging to help people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, customizations, and more, without ever needing to set foot in a store. Facebook plans to roll out the feature to other countries, with additional languages, sometime in the future. ASUS, for example, will give you an unboxing experience where you get a closer look at their phones before purchasing, and Sephora will let you try on their make-up with a filter. Nike is using Messenger to drop a new pair of sneakers, giving people an exclusive sneak peek at them through a curated and visual red carpet experience. The companies which created some of the first examples include Nike (virtual sneakers), Asus (a smartphone), Kia (a Stinger vehicle you can plunk in your own driveway), and Sephora (virtual makeup effects). Businesses that want to join the programme can sign up to the waiting list.

Messenger is also getting a dash of built-in translation: Its M AI feature will translate between English and Spanish to let people using Facebook's Marketplace feature discuss transactions across languages. We see hints of that at Facebook's event today, where the company introduced M Translations, an AI-powered tool that automatically translates languages into the user's default language.

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Other companies also are using artificial intelligence to break language barriers.

M Suggestions now operate in 11 countries and are available in English, German, Spanish, French, and Thai.

We can't thank enough the businesses and developers that continue to build on the Messenger Platform and amaze us and their customers with unique and engaging experiences.

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