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Inbox’s New “Smart Reply” Feature Helps You Respond to Emails Faster

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Through an update rolling out to Google’s Inbox later this week, Google is introducing a new feature called Smart Reply. As the name sort of suggests, Google thinks that it has cracked some form of machine learning voodoo, which has enabled it to offer you short, quick responses to emails that could potentially save you a lot of time and typing. Think of how keyboards, like Google’s or Swiftkey, predict the next word you are typing or are about to type. Google now wants to do that on a grander scale, that scale being email. 

You can see two examples (in GIF form!) below, where Inbox has essentially scanned the email you are are reading and is then offering you three responses that may fit the conversation. These responses aren’t just canned quick phrases, like you would see in a text messaging app or if you want to auto-respond after hanging up on someone. These seem to be related to the actual email, so that you can either respond and move on or at least get the response started before typing out a longer email. Of course, they should get smarter with time depending on the phrases you do or do not choose.

I would attempt to explain to you how all these machine learning, behind-the-scenes magic works, but I would likely fail. If you want to read more, Google published a research post on pair of recurrent neural networks powering this whole Smart Reply System that can be read right here.

Again, the update is arriving “later this week.” We’ll let you know as soon as it shows up.

Play Link

smartreply1 smartreply2

Via:  Gmail Blog
  • Peter Tirrell

    I keep trying inbox and always end up coming back to the gmail client. Can inbox yet undo the autoresize of images, and also let you assign more than one label to a message before archiving?

  • rj-b

    Meanwhile, replying to emails sent to multiple people defaults to ‘Reply All’. Seems making that an OPTION would have been a ‘smarter’ feature…

  • TC Infantino

    The rise of AI is happening! Those who want to survive the coming robot revolution need to start worshipping our Mighty and Benevolent overlord Google! All Hail Google!

  • Paul

    I need the ability to add stuff to my calendar from inbox. Gmail has it, but it’s never worked in Inbox.

  • Chris Hughes

    Now just make it so you can share inline images!

  • John Jenness

    I was on the fence with Inbox until they simplified all the clicking (swipe to trash). I’m glad I stuck it out because this feature is impressive.

    • Jason Downing

      Should be able to swipe to archive AND trash though.

  • Badelhas

    English language only?

  • Tyler Durden

    “do you want to come in today on your day off?”

    Smart Reply – “F uck off.”

    • smarter just to send that directly to spam 😉

      • EngineerGunter

        Ope! Sorry, never got that email…

  • Michael Graef

    Cool feature. But did I miss a memo or something explaining why Google is fragmenting their own gmail user experience? Why not just fold these features into gmail?

    • wheineman

      Most people could not handle inbox. Those who embraced Priority Inbox are pumped about Inbox. But those who never turned it on would be quite scared of the whole idea.

      I am cool with this though. It’s essentially 2 clients accessing the same framework of Gmail. One client is heavy on the priority features. The other is more bare bones and lets your do it your own way!

  • Mordecaidrake

    I still can’t decide if Inbox is right for me, I feel like it requires more “clicks” than normal gmail. Am I the only one?

    • Jason Downing

      I feel this way too. And the fact that swipe and notifications either give you delete OR achieve. That’s why I am using mailbox instead.

      • Mordecaidrake

        Yeah that kind of bugs me too, but IDK maybe we’re missing something haha

        • Jason Downing

          I think they just screwed up. Originally you were only able to archive or “mark done” and then they added the delete feature, but missed the part about wanting both options at the same time.

    • Michael G

      Took me about the third time of forcing myself to use it and I finally stuck with it. I prefer it now. I’ve grown fond of snoozing emails and using custom reminders for future notifications. (payment alerts, appointments, etc)

      • Mordecaidrake

        The only thing, so far, that I really liked about it was my google reminders have a place to show up. Rather than when they’re about to go off as a Google Now card.

        • Michael G

          Ya I tried using Google Reminders exclusively but day to day reminders weren’t consistently notifying me for some reason. I’ve read of others having this problem. So I still use Any.do. I really want to use Reminders though.

    • Jérôme Besnard

      i switched and I love it. I’m just missing the widget.

    • jnt

      I’ve tried to use it a few times now and can never get it to stick. That said, I already have an inbox system I use, though it takes discipline and action on my part to keep it going. All emails go into four folders – urgent, 24 hours, later, done/follow up. I have to have all of the urgent emails cleared out by the time I go to bed. I review the 24 hour ones and try and clear them out daily. “Later” has become a bit of a catch-all, or archive-but-don’t-want-to-forget folder. And done/fu I check weekly to close out stuff if need be. I keep hoping Inbox will help me automate something similar to that, but haven’t been able to stay with it. A part of it is the lack of keyboard shortcuts compared to regular gmail – I’m completely hooked on gmail keyboard shortcuts. The other part is the whole categorization thing… it just doesn’t play well with my mindset of how it should work (which is probably my biggest hurdle!). Anyway, TLDR on this for sure… sorry about that.

    • No. You’re not.

    • rj-b

      I use Inbox for my personal email, Gmail for my work account. Makes it easier to have dedicated apps/sites for each instead of switching accounts. Something to consider.

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  • Suicide_Note

    Just when I think my heart can’t swell any larger with love for Google, they go and do something like this. Heart size +10.

    • Jason Downing

      …and totally redeem themselves?

      • TC Infantino

        +1
        Dumb and Dumber reference.