Google adds ‘Smart Reply’ to Gmail on Android, iOS: Here’s how it works

The 'Smart Reply' feature was first introduced in Google's 'Inbox by Gmail' app in 2015.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 18, 2017 10:14:59 pm
 Gmail, Gmail for Android, Gmail for iOS, Google, Google I/O, Google I/O 2017, Google I/O Keynote ‘Smart Reply’ feature is now rolling out to Gmail for Android and iOS.

When Sundar Pichai addressed the I/O Keynote on Wednesday, he shared more about Google’s vision of machine learning for Android, and how it will change the future of communication for better. While doing that Pichai also announced Google’s machine learning-based feature ‘Smart Reply’ for Gmail app on Android and iOS.

The ‘Smart Reply’ feature was first introduced in Google’s ‘Inbox by Gmail’ app in 2015. The feature as of today also works with Allo messaging app, and on Android Wear devices.

What does ‘Smart Reply’ feature do?

‘Smart Reply’ in Gmail will essentially suggest three quick responses to your email. These responses will be short, but appropriate as Google’s machine learning analyzes the content of the email that you’ve received. It then quickly offers responses at the bottom of that email. Not just this, ‘Smart Reply’ overtime learns how you write, and hence the responses will change from generic to what you would have written.

Gmail, Gmail for iOS, Smart Reply Gmail ‘Smart Reply’ responses in iOS app

How does it work?

Once you’ve received an email, you’ll see three quick responses suggested by Google. You can simply tap to selected one of the response, and then send it immediately or you can add more to your response by typing.

Google has a research blog explaining how the Smart Reply function works now. While initially the Smart Reply was based on “word-by-word” encoding with “long-short-term-memory (LSTM) recurrent neural network,” which then decoded the potential replies, Google has now moved to a “hierarchy of vector representations,” in order to come up with these quick answers.

Note: Smart response doesn’t go with just a tap, you further need to tap on the send arrow sign on top right corner of your email. This feature saves two steps for a user in Gmail, which is tapping on reply and then typing out a response.

Google notes since the initial release of Smart Reply, usage has grown significantly and now drives about 12% of replies in Inbox on mobile. Starting Wednesday, the Smart Reply feature will begin rolling out to Gmail for Android and iOS. It will roll out globally in English first, with Spanish to follow in the coming weeks. Support for more languages is coming, the company revealed.

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