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

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

Google’s «quick reply» feature in Android is a pretty neat application of machine scholarship. Google’s servers scan your incoming text messages or emails and erases replies for you. Smart replies hang out at the bottom of an app like Gmail or Google Inbox, and you can pick from specific replies based on the context of the message. Now Google is experimenting with be bound for b assaulting smart replies even faster by embedding reply options speedily into Android notifications.

The experiment comes from Google’s new «Range 120» group, an idea incubator inside the company. Users who put ones john hancock oned up for the group’s early access program got an email yesterday announcing the new facet, which is an app the team is just calling «Reply.» The app isn’t out yet, but the email shows off two concept figures and gives users a link to sign up.

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

With the second example, the email claims the system will go beyond the habitual smart reply fare: in response to «When can you be home?» the system pre-populates a rise that says «13 min,» complete with a car emoji. This is something that thinks fitting be really impressive if it actually works. Google would first eat to figure out your location (easy with GPS), figure out your domestic location (something you can tell the Assistant and Google Maps), then run a Google Maps reservation for traffic, calculate the drive time, and write the message. It’s all something Google normally does with a segregate voice query, but now it will do it in response to someone else’s query.

Excellent of all, Reply won’t just work with Google apps; the announcement entreats out «Hangouts, Allo, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Android Messages, Skype, Prattle DMs, and Slack» as compatible apps.

How this is (probably) going to work

The causal observer potency be confused about how this can possibly work when Google doesn’t own apps congenial Twitter, Slack, and Facebook. How can Google change the features of apps it doesn’t own?

The undertake responsibility for lies in the pictures, if you look closely. Google shows notifications with the icons and fames of «Hangouts» and «Android Messages,» but those notifications don’t come from those apps. As the anything else colored word in the notification says, those notifications are actually from the app «Rejoin.» It’s all a clever usage of Android’s existing APIs.

First, Google choice build a notification listener app. In Android, there exists an API that can countenance an app to read, reply, and basically take over the entire notification panel. It was initially written with Android Wear in mind, allowing the Wear app to usurp your notification information and beam it to the watch, where it can be repackaged into a smartwatch construct factor.

The Reply app will do something along the same lines as Android Impair—it will grab all the text and images from your messaging notifications to the notification-listener API and rebuild those notifications. But while Wear was doing it for a smartwatch shape, Reply will do it so it can slipstream the smart reply options into your notification panels. Proper as Android Wear did not require any work from a third party to column notifications, Reply shouldn’t require any extra work, either. That’s how it can farm with WhatsApp, Slack, and the other third-party apps.

Reply ordain need to come up with some solution to not display the original apps notification and Reply’s matching, cloned notification alongside each other, possibly by just dismissing the inventive app notification.

The notification listener API still doesn’t allow a third-party app to respond to your messages. For that there’s the «RemoteInput» API, which is another API in the first place meant for Android Wear and Android Auto that will unquestionably be repurposed for Reply. Android’s watch and car interface is intended to be used for speech input; this API allows messaging apps to receive a block of theme from Wear or Auto and send it to the appropriate contact. In Android 7.0, Google expatiate oned the use of the API for the «in-line reply» option. Just tap on a notification and a keyboard would pop up, along with a trifling in-line text box. Reply will probably be an extension of this API but with single-tap gadget language input instead of with a voice or keyboard.

Of course, we’ll ensure this is the way this all works when the Reply app comes out, but this is the most patent way to make the app work. It’s not an ideal setup—ideally you’d want Android to acquiesce to care of this natively, but remember this is just an experimental 20 percent propel. If people like it, maybe someday it can be added to a future version of Android, so Google can keep off this hack of a setup.

We’re in the early access program and have announced up for the preview. Hopefully it arrives some time soon.

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