Google is extending its ‘smart reply’ feature to third-party apps. It’s also going to get a little smarter when suggesting replies.
The feature is already available in the mobile Gmail app. When reading an incoming message, users see three suggested quick replies that are based on the content of the message. Tapping any of the replies opens up a message with that text included, ready to hit send (or amend.)
The idea is to make it easier to process the types of emails that require a response but don’t need a great deal of attention. (Suggestions usually only appear on personal messages rather than newsletters or promotional material.) In my own experience, the replies don’t always include the perfect response, but are rarely embarrassingly ‘wrong’. They are usually appropriate to the main question or choice of options in the incoming message.
Smart Reply will soon be redubbed Reply and, when activated as a standalone app, be incorporated in third-party tools such as Twitter direct messages, WhatsApp and Slack. It also appears it may be included in standard text messaging as well,
It also appears the system behind the responses will be using some initiative rather than simply relying on the message text. A Google screenshot shows a message asking a user how long it will take them to get home. One of the suggested responses of ’13 min’ implies the system has used the phone’s current location and the map tool to give an appropriate reply without the user needing to look up the information themselves.