It appears Google is working to bring its Smart Reply feature to a variety of messaging apps from third parties, not just its own services such as Allo, Inbox, Assistant, and Gmail.
For the uninitiated, Smart Reply is Google's clever artificial intelligence-based feature that generates a set of clickable replies based on the context of the message. If, for example, a recipient gets an invitation to a party or a meeting, the AI will automatically interpret this and provide appropriate responses like "I'll be there," or "See you!" or something along those lines.
Google Smart Reply
It debuted in Inbox over two years ago, then later rolled out to Gmail, Android Messages, Allo, and most recently, Project Fi. Now, a development team inside Google's Area 120 incubator is reportedly working to bring the feature to popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and a ton of others.
The said project is going to be called "Reply" and will be available to Android users initially, as per the project's sign-up form.
Screenshots delivered to beta testers show Reply working on apps such as Google's own messaging client Hangouts and Android Messages. Apparently, the replies also take into consideration the user's current location to craft even more proper responses.
It should be noted that Android Messages, as mentioned, has already received Smart Reply support. Though it's fairly limited, as is the Smart Reply integration on Project Fi. Not all Android Messages users are able to access Smart Reply.
It's hard to imagine how quickly Google will be able to finish this project given that it involves bringing it to third-party apps and the fact that Smart Reply still feels limited even on Google's own set of services. But as a hint of how it would work, Area 120 said the plan is to offer Smart Replies right into the notifications tab, supposedly when the user receives a notification from the above-mentioned third-party chat apps. That means Reply won't come in the form of a standalone app like, say, Google Duo, but merely a feature baked into a variety of chat apps.
Beyond automated replies, Reply is getting brand-new features that make it even more aware of certain situations. For example, when one's phone is on silent mode, Reply can bypass this and play the usual alert tone when it determines that a message is too urgent.
The project is reportedly very early in development, so don't expect it to launch anytime soon. This is pure guesswork, but perhaps Reply could be a standard feature included in Android P, the forthcoming version of Google's mobile operating system.