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.