Google is finally rolling out the previously announced Smart Reply feature to Hangouts Chat users in G Suite.
The internet giant first introduced smart replies to its experimental Inbox mobile email app way back in 2015, followed by its flagship Gmail mobile app last year and then the web-based incarnation back in May. It has been pretty clear that smart replies are emerging as a core tool for Google across its messaging empire, and back in July the company confirmed that the feature was heading to Hangouts Chat.
But it has taken the best part of five months for the rollout to actually begin, a process that kicks off today and which should be complete over the next few days.
How it works
The workings of Smart Reply in Hangouts Chat is similar to Gmail — you’re presented with a bunch of pre-generated options to select above the message field, saving you a whole handful of seconds having to type a reply yourself.
You can, of course, add your own words to the computer-generated utterance, so as to sound less curt in your response.
By way of a quick recap, Hangouts Chat emerged last year after Google announced it was splitting the Hangouts platform into two services: Hangouts Meet, a Skype-like videoconferencing application, and Chat, a Slack-like platform for teams.
The classic version of Hangouts for consumers still exists, but Google revealed last week that it would be sunsetting the service next year. Yesterday, Google clarified what this will mean for Hangouts users — essentially, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet will be expanded beyond G Suite and into the consumer realm.
At any rate, smart replies appear to be a popular feature across Google’s products — they’re now used in 10 percent of all messages sent in Gmail. And Hangouts Chat users can now join in the fun too.
“We’re bringing Smart Reply to Hangouts Chat so you can respond to teammates quickly and move projects forward more efficiently, in less time,” the company said in a blog post today. “This launch is part of our ongoing effort to bring intelligent, assistive writing tools to all of G Suite.”
One point worth noting: Smart replies are currently only available in English on Hangouts Chat. Inside Gmail, they are available in Spanish too, while Gmail also offers a separate AI-powered Smart Compose feature for speedier emailing, and this will also be opening soon to 4 new languages. So don’t be surprised if Google expands language support for smart replies in Hangouts Chat too.