One of the themes, if there is one, that seems to be emerging from Google I/O 2017 is the expansion of existing Google technologies to a wider array of platforms. An example of that was the announcement today that the Smart Reply function that Google developed for their Inbox and Allo apps will be added to and supported in Gmail on both the Android and iOS operating systems.
Smart Reply functions as a means to speed up a user’s ability to reply to an email by providing proposed short answers. The answers are constructed by Google’s AI technology that can read an incoming email and then determine appropriate responses. Google notes that the analysis goes beyond examining the inbound email. Smart Reply also studies how a user likes to or tends to respond. Even something as simple as whether a user prefers to use a period versus an exclamation mark, as in “Thanks.” versus “Thanks!” is something the AI can pick up on and incorporate into suggested answers or replies.
When a user makes use of the Smart Reply options, which appear in boxes at the bottom of an email message displayed on a smartphone, they still have the opportunity to edit the message before it is sent. In essence, the Smart Reply functions as a template for a reply. This avoids the awkward situation of a nonsensical reply being sent.
Google says Smart Reply responses already make up 12 percent of the replies sent by Inbox users, so it will be interesting to see if the expansion to the Gmail platform moves that number. The update will be rolling out to users over the next several weeks (I already received it in one of my accounts) starting in English. That will then be followed by the rollout for Spanish speaking users.