WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger to Get AI Assistants; Meta Shows Off Image Generation Tool Emu


Meta showcased a host of new products and services, including the Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset and a pair of smart glasses made in collaboration with Ray-Ban, at its Meta Connect annual conference on Wednesday. Alongside the hardware, the company also announced its own AI assistant, Meta AI, and a variety of AI experiences across Meta’s suite of apps and devices, including AI stickers in Meta apps and AI editing tools for Instagram. Meta AI, a conversational generative AI assistant much like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Microsoft’s Bing, will be available on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.

Meta AI will be powered by the company’s custom model that borrows from Meta’s large language model, Llama 2. The AI assistant, Meta said, will provide real-time information in response to text-based queries, trawling the internet via Bing search. Meta AI will also generate images based on text prompts. The AI assistant can help plan hiking trips with your friends in a group chat, prepare recipes, or help with your shopping list. Users can type in “@MetaAI /imagine” inside their chat box and follow it up with descriptive text prompts for what they want the AI assistant to do. Meta AI is also coming to the company’s latest devices, the Meta Quest 3 and the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.

In addition to its default AI assistant, the company also showed off AI avatars with distinct personalities. Meta is bringing 28 AI characters, each with a unique backstory and behaviour. These AI characters can be conversed with in WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, and will also include some public figures and influencers that Meta has partnered up with for their likenesses. Famous people coming as AI characters include Dwayne Wade, Kendall Jenner, Mr. Beast, Snoop Dogg and more.

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Emu can generate stickers based on user prompts
Photo Credit: Meta

Meta is calling its image generation tool ‘expressive media universe’, or Emu. The tool can also quickly generate AI stickers based on a user’s text prompts inside apps like WhatsApp or Instagram to share with friends. “It’s high-quality, photorealistic,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the presentation. “But, one of the coolest things is the Emu generates that fast. It’s not a minute. It takes five seconds to generate one of these,” he added. This custom sticker generation feature will roll out to select English-language users over the next month in WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook Stories.

The Facebook parent is also bringing new AI-powered image editing tools, specifically two new features — Restyle and Backdrop — that utilise technology from the Emu tool. Restyle acts as a kind of custom filter that works based on user prompts. Based on single descriptor or a more detail prompt, Restyle will edit your images to reflect a particular mood. And as the name suggests, Backdrop will let users change the background of their images based on custom prompts. Images created using both tools will carry markers that indicate the image is AI-generated. Meta said that Restyle and Backdrop were coming soon to Instagram but did not provide a concrete release date for the same.

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