With every big tech company making a massive AI push, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is introduced its chatbot assistant to one of the biggest markets globally. Meta.ai, available in several other countries, is now rolling out in India on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram and on the meta.ai website. On the heels of the Meta announcement, Google has also announced integration of Gemini with Gmail.

At first, some Indian users will find they have meta.ai on one or the other compatible apps. The roll out will be gradual rather than to all users at once. On Instagram, the meta.ai button will appear as part of the search bar. On Facebook, it will be available in the Feed, and on WhatsApp it appears both as a prominent button and with a separate chat just as if it were a contact. It also has a browser home at meta.ai and that has just gone live for India as well.

The promise of meta.ai is that it will help a user with everyday tasks, with fun, responses to questions and creativity right from within the pertinent apps.

Questions and interaction with meta.ai are via text which the user must input, though of course, one can use the microphone on the keyboard to voice input as well. But direct two-way voice interaction is not yet part of what is a chatbot style experience.

On WhatsApp, which is possibly where Indian users will most end up using meta.ai since there such intense and widespread use of the messaging app, meta.ai answers questions about anything. Ask about the weather for the week, movies nearby, or whatever else comes to mind from time to time. A currency conversion, tips on how to do something, etc. The responses aren’t as specific and elaborate as directly from Google. One of the best ways to learn what meta.ai can and cannot do is to just ask.

Questions on WhatsApp are not stored on Meta servers. They can be cleared away just as one would clear a chat. On the browser, you can store questions and projects that you ask about by signing in with Facebook. Once done, you can save the history.

Examples of things you can do with meta.ai include sharing an email and asking for it to be rewritten more professionally, answering some questions to get tips on what to pack for an upcoming trip, get help with an assignment, simulate a mock interview etc.

On Whatsapp, users can have a bit of fun asking meta.ai to make or ‘imagine’ an image and one will appear. These are not hi-res realistic photographs but more in a lighthearted vein. You can also ask for the image to be animated, after the fact to get a gif. These are a little clumsy but could still be used contextually in chats with a copy-paste. All images are watermarked. You can’t give meta.ai your own images to animate or modify.

Meta.ai uses Llama 3 language learning model. It competes with ChatGPT, Gemini and Microsoft’s CoPilot.

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