Gmail’s contextual Smart Reply AI is coming to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter – here’s how to get it

The Smart Reply feature, first brought to Gmail’s email client back in 2015, was a figurative lifesaver and allowed users to hand over the emailing reigns to Google’s contextual AI. 

Now, Area 120, the experimental team inside Google, wants to bring its contextual replies to other chat-based platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Sending out invitations via email, Area 120 urged users to try out a new app called Reply. 

According to Android Police, Reply will respond to queries made on messaging platforms from people asking things such as, “When will you be home?” and will use location data to help you ping back a response. 

 Reply will also have an auto-responder, plus a “do not disturb” mode for those times when you’re on holiday, or driving. It will be able to prioritise information and send a notification if the AI deems it important, like if the message says “Where are you?” 

The email additionally highlights the different messaging platforms that Reply will work with. It includes apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Messenger, Slack, Skype and Twitter DMs. 

The great thing is that you don’t actually need to have been formally invited by Google to request access to the Reply app. Fill out this form with your details as well as the chat platforms you use to get access to the app. It should be noted that Reply will only be available on Android for the time being.

The news comes as Google looks to further its development into AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) with Snapchat-style slidable, interactive news stories for select publishers. 

Announced in a blog post, the tech giant said the feature is currently in a test period, meaning only a handful of news outlets like CNN, The Washington Post and Mashable, have the chance to embed publisher-made stories into search results. It works by showing you a carousel of visual content specifically optimised for mobile devices. 

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Trying the feature out and searching for the Washington Post, for example, on g.com/ampstories gives us a sneak peek of what the feature will look like. Tap through to one of the stories and tap through images, videos and text, all in an AMP-enabled format. It’s not a wholly efficient system though as you aren’t able to physically swipe through each story like you can on Google search.

“The mobile web is great for distributing and sharing content, but mastering performance is tricky,” Google wrote. “Creating visual stories on the web with the fast and smooth performance that users have grown accustomed to in native apps can be challenging.”

Google’s expanded AMP feature is reminiscent of Facebook’s own Instant Articles, which loads news stories instantly in the Facebook app.

AMP will also be coming to Gmail at some point in the near future and will let developers add interactive calendars, for example, inside an email. As Google notes, this will mean an airline can show you up-to-date flight information or fill out a questionnaire in your inbox. 

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