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Smart Reply Finally Comes to Your Gmail App

smart reply

Google now lets you shoot off quick, machine-generated, short email responses in Gmail using Smart Reply. And it learns to create better ones along the way, too.

Inbox and Allo apps have used “instant reply” technology for a while now. The same innovation is coming to the Gmail app (for both iOS and Android). Regardless of whether you’re a fan of smart replies, Google is rolling out the update so you might want to try it out.

Machine Learning Technology

Powered by Google’s machine learning algorithm, Gmail now analyzes your messages and then suggests short, three- or four-word replies to them. Think “Thank you.”, “Yes!”, or “I’m not available this week.” You may then tap and insert a chosen reply into a new email, hit send, and you’re done for the day.

For a while, this flagship feature (called Smart Reply) was only available in Inbox—Google’s experimental, next-generation email client. The same tool came with Allo app, too. It was only until recently when Google finally announced that its machine learning smarts will be introduced in Gmail.

A More Efficient Gmail?

What’s so smart about it, you ask? This new, Gmail feature is tagged “smart” because it looks at incoming emails and shows you a couple of quick, sensible replies. If you’ve never used instant replies before today, you’ll soon realize how it cuts down the time you need to take care of electronic mails.

No doubt, it’s pretty handy to have for quick confirmation or replies. Its advanced mechanics makes it go beyond this simple function, however. With machine learning, Smart Reply improves the suggestions it shows you the more you use the tool. Give it some time and it can mimic your writing style better.

Smart Reply “Learns” Over Time

The reply suggestions don’t appear for all messages, though. They’re generated by default in emails that have a subject and/or text in the body. In such cases, scroll to the bottom of the email to see three potential replies that Smart Reply suggests.

When the email you received doesn’t have a subject or a body, you won’t see any smart replies generated at all. Either that or the email is just an attachment or one that you’ve already replied to.  If a new message arrives in that same thread, though, you’ll then see reply suggestions appear.

The First, Few Tries

Use Smart Reply a couple of times and you’ll initially observe how its canned replies can feel impersonal. In some cases, its suggestions can get pretty comical. Worse, they might not quite fit the message you want to send out. You may often end up starting replies with a Smart Reply option and then edit it to add more context.

The feature gradually “learns” and improves the more you use its suggestions, though. With Internet experts expressing how Smart Reply now works quite well for them (since its launch), this indicates that the initial bump could easily be overcome.

Like Text Replacement, But Better

Ever mistyped a word when sending an SMS? You’ll often find your smartphone automatically replacing the misspelled word with one that it thinks is right. The same thing happens when you use an informal short version of a phrase.

So type “omw” and you’ll see it replaced with “On my way”. That’s simply three taps to type a quick reply. That neat, little feature is called text replacement and it can be configured to do all the work for you. Smart Reply works in a similar fashion, minus the configuration part.

In the future, you could be sending succinct and sensible Gmail replies with just a few taps.

Smart Reply’s Limitation

Sure, using this new Gmail feature more will make it learn to create better replies. Keep in mind, though, that it can’t compose detailed replies just yet. For now, it’s primary goal is to shorten the process of sending “You’re welcome” or “Thank you” messages.

Even with such limitations, Google reports that 12% of all Inbox replies to date use smart replies. Clearly, many people find use in its simplicity. It isn’t far-fetched to think that Gmail users would eventually catch on Smart Reply’s potential.

Give Smart Reply a Try

The feature just rolled out with Gmail in recent weeks. While it’s globally available in English, support for Spanish may be coming in a few weeks.

Regardless of your stand on pre-packaged messages, it’ll simply show up the next time you shoot someone an email on Gmail. In that case, it won’t hurt to give it a try, yes? Hopefully, using Smart Replies won’t force you to take a crash course on unsending emails and text.

Speaking of Gmail, check out this guide on Gmail keyboard shortcuts for quicker emailing. Or you could learn these 7 tricks to make Gmail more secure, too.

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