TikTok is testing an AI chatbot in the Philippines

TikTok has confirmed reports that it is testing an in-app artificial intelligence chatbot called “Tako” in the Philippines.

“We’re in the early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines. Tako is an AI-powered tool to help with search and discovery on TikTok,” the operator of the popular short-form video-sharing app said on Twitter.

TikTok said Tako is powered by a third-party chat assistant and is “designed to help make it easier to discover entertaining and inspiring content on TikTok.”

The company did not say which third-party chat assistant it tapped to power Tako.

Social media rival Snap Inc., in February, rolled out its chatbot called “My AI,” which is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology. Less than two months after the launch, Snap expanded My AI to include the ability to create fully AI-generated images.

Now short-form video-sharing platform TikTok is banking on the popularity of ChatGPT through Tako.

The chatbot is currently in limited testing in select markets including the Philippines, where it has a strong presence. Data from market research firm DataReportal shows that TikTok had 43.43 million users aged 18 and above in the country in 2023.

The discovery of Tako was initially made by Watchful.ai, an Israel-based app intelligence firm. Screenshots of the chatbot’s interface reveal a ghost-shaped icon, accompanied by a welcoming message:

“Hey! I’m Tako. Feel free to ask me anything, and I’ll do my best to help you find what you’re looking for.”

TikTok emphasizes that Tako is aimed at enhancing the search and discovery experience on the platform.

TikTok says Tako is aimed at assisting users with search and discovery on the app. Earlier in May, the platform launched an in-app music discovery hub, #NewMusic, that will highlight new releases by artists, allowing fans to discover new music and artists.

“The #NewMusic hub allows fans to discover the best new music, often before it’s heard elsewhere, while providing a platform for emerging and established artists to grow their fanbases and connect with their audience,” TikTok said at the time.

Most recently, a TikTok spokesman reportedly told TechCrunch: “Being at the forefront of innovation is core to building the TikTok experience, and we’re always exploring new technologies that add value to our community.”

“In select markets, we’re testing new ways to power search and discovery on TikTok, and we look forward to learning from our community as we continue to create a safe place that entertains, inspires creativity and drives culture,” TikTok added.

Watchful.ai, meanwhile, said it found the AI chatbot in tests on iOS devices in the US.

Another screenshot of Tako by Watchful.ai suggests that Tako is an “experimental chatbot” that can answer questions and have conversations with users.

“Feedback from Tako is AI generated, and may not be true or accurate, so it should not be relied upon as advice on medical, legal, financial, etc. All conversations will be reviewed for safety purposes and to enhance your experience. Please do not share your private information with Tako.”

The new feature comes as TikTok continues to expand its offerings in a bid to attract and sustain users.

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