Back in April, we learned that Meta would be introducing generative AI to its products, and now beta testers are getting a taste of what that’s like for its WhatsApp messaging app.
Joining the beta programme for either is easier said than done however. While both are full at the time of writing, Android users are likely to have more luck getting in than iPhone owners. Given the churn of people leaving the Google Play beta programme, you may get lucky if you keep trying at different times of day. The iPhone Testflight page, on the other hand, has been without vacancies for over two years.
Even if you have the beta, you may not be able to see chatbots yet, with the site cautioning that the feature is only available to “some beta testers” with the roll out extending to more users “over the coming weeks”.
But if you are lucky enough to be amongst the chosen ones, it looks like a lot of fun. Our sister site, TechRadar, has been putting the Android beta through its paces and, as promised during Meta Connect, the AI avatars have different personas depending on what you’re looking for in a virtual chat partner.
You can play Dungeons and Dragons with the Snoop Dog-styled Dungeon Master, get work advice from Leo the career coach or get a pep talk from Scarlett, described as a “hype woman bestie.”
There’s also a more generic virtual assistant called Meta AI, which is more in the vein of ChatGPT and Google Bard. As you can see in the picture below, it’s perfectly happy offering advice on what to watch on Netflix, which laptop to buy and how to cook the perfect lasagne.
Once you’ve kicked off a conversation with an AI, it will sit in your Chats list as if they’re a real, breathing person. And interestingly that means you can carry on your AI conversations on the desktop version of WhatsApp, even though this is an update purely for the mobile versions.
Hopefully this beta version suggests a wider rollout isn’t too far away. But for now, if you’re enrolled in the beta, enjoy this early taste of Meta’s vision for the future.