Google today announced that it’s bolstering its Inbox email client with new short passages of text that you can use to easily respond to emails while you’re out and about.
The new Smart Reply feature will start rolling out on iOS and Android later this week, and will offer additional useful responses based on those that users select, as Google software engineer Bálint Miklós wrote in a blog post on the news.
“Smart Reply suggests up to three responses based on the emails you get,” Miklós wrote. “For those emails that only need a quick response, it can take care of the thinking and save precious time spent typing. And for those longer emails that require a bit more thought, it gives you a jump-start so you can respond right away.”
Google first launched Inbox about a year ago, and the company initially limited access with invitation codes, just as it did while rolling out Gmail in 2004. Since the launch of Inbox, Google has added a handful of features, including snoozing on an email until the optimal moment to respond.
Automatically generated responses aren’t completely new. Apple has for some time allowed iOS users to respond to calls with generic but customizable text messages. Some mobile apps, like Tempo AI — which Salesforce bought — have allowed users to send a message to people they were scheduled to meet if they were running late. Now this sort of functionality is coming to something as core as email. Too bad it’s not available for Gmail — or not yet, anyway.
Under the covers, Google uses a few methods of deep learning — a type of artificial intelligence — to come up with fitting automatic responses based on the text of each email. Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado has a blog post today explaining how the system works.