Google experiment writes IM replies for you, lets you send them with a tap

Enlarge / Google’s two demo smart replies, now directly in a notification.

Google’s “smart reply” feature in Android is a pretty neat application of machine learning. Google’s servers scan your incoming text messages or e-mails and write replies for you. Smart replies hang out at the bottom of an app like Gmail or Google Inbox, and you can pick from several replies based on the context of the message. Now Google is experimenting with making smart replies even faster, by embedding reply options directly into Android notifications.

The experiment comes from Google’s new “Area 120” group, an idea incubator inside the company. Users that signed up for the group’s early-access program got an e-mail yesterday announcing the new feature, which is an app the team is just calling “Reply.” The app isn’t out yet, but the e-mail shows off two concept images and gives users

link to sign up.

The images show a notification from Hangouts and Android Messages with the expected text and image, but below them, right in the notification panel, are a few machine-produced replies. Someone asks “Are you at a restaurant?” and you can fire back a quick reply with a single tap.

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