Thus far, virtual personal assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana have been part of an effort to differentiate mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Facebook, however, is working on bringing virtual personal assistants to its Messenger app and the web, according to The Information.
Facebook’s offering, which is codenamed “Moneypenny” after the assistant character in the James Bond franchise, will allow users to ask real people for help to research and purchase products and services. Moneypenny will be able to help users with other tasks, but it’s unclear what those tasks could be. It’s also unknown when Moneypenny could launch.
In recent months Facebook has been working on turning Messenger into a platform, opening up the service to third-party iOS app integration and allowing developers to build apps for the service. Additionally, Facebook previewed the ability for users to be able to message businesses directly to receive updates and shipping confirmations about their online orders as well as the ability to ask free-form questions about orders from within the app.