AI has been making waves in almost every perceivable application on Android, and other operating systems too. Microsoft offers Copilot on Windows, while Google’s Bard chatbot and Search Labs experiments are gaining traction with testers. Meanwhile, Meta is also bringing an AI assistant to its properties, including Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp. The new AI chatbot is now rolling out on a large scale on WhatsApp.
Back in September this year, Meta announced plans to dabble with an AI chatbot for its popular services. At the time, the implementation closely resembled OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard. The company relied heavily on the Llama 2 large language model for fluent and realistic conversation, while a partnership allowed Microsoft Bing to do all the heavy lifting, finding the answers to your questions with a web search. You could ask the AI any question, or try one of the platform-specific features such as AI-generated visual effects for photos on Instagram. However, only a few testers were allowed access to these AI tools.
After a few months of beta testing, it appears Meta has added the finishing touches, because WABetaInfo spotted a new AI-powered chat shortcut in WhatsApp. This is indicative of a wider rollout, at least for the beta channel, and that’s a good sign. In due course, Meta should expand availability to the stable channel as well.
A new floating action button in WhatsApp makes it easier to access the generative AI
The new shortcut to starting a chat with AI shows up as a floating action button (FAB) just above the new message FAB in the Chats tab on WhatsApp. This new launch shortcut, which looks like a multicolor circle in a pale gray button, makes it much easier to access the Meta AI in WhatsApp, which was previously tucked away in the Contacts section. The new placement also aids feature discovery, because it is unmissable if you’ve never seen it before.
WABetaInfo notes that WhatsApp beta version 22.214.171.124 is compatible, but some testers may see the feature even on the older version 126.96.36.199. The former is available on the Play Store currently, giving us hope that WhatsApp’s AI chatbot is not too far from a stable channel release. The messaging app has several other important features reaching users already, like the new integration with DocuSign to make digital signatures easier, and voice chats for larger groups which ensure you don’t need to start a voice call which disturbs every single participant.