Android Messages Now has Google Assistant Integration


Photo Credit: Google

Google announced plans Monday at Mobile World Congress to include Google Assistant in Android Messages. Integration of the Assistant will focus on adding context to a conversation, such as suggestions about movies, restaurants, and the weather. As a user texts, a Google Assistant button may appear as a smart reply. Once tapped, the Assistant will be asked a question, and a user will have the option to include the answer directly in a message. The feature will be rolled out over the coming months, and will only be available in English.

AI + Messaging Integration is Not New

The functionality of Google Assistant support in Messages is based on the 2016 Allo chat app. Allo was developed by Google and featured Google Assistant support. Support was seen in suggested replies based on a user’s past responses. Users were also able to play a game to guess movies based on emojis, ask about sports scores, and more. It was announced that Google was shutting down Allo at the beginning of December 2018, but the Google Assistant features that will be offered in the Android Messages integration are very familiar.

Before Allo was introduced, Facebook Messenger’s M Suggestions was recommending responses based on the topic of conversation between users. For example, a message saying “Where are you?” would prompt Messenger to suggest that a user share their location. M Suggestions were announced in April 2016, and are still a feature of Facebook’s Messenger application.

Will AI in Messaging Move Toward Emotional and Personality Customization?

Something else to consider about this announcement is that the planned features are quite tame considering other message applications that boast AI integration. Consider the Mei messaging app, which focuses on analyzing user’s relationships with a built-in relationship AI in order to suggest personalized SMS responses. Mei gives users advice for each SMS conversation based on that contact’s personality. The app is able to construct a personality of a user’s contact by analyzing the user’s texts between one another. Just one person in a text conversation needs to have the Mei app in order for this to work. With over 400,000 downloads since it’s initial launch 4 months ago, Mei is definitely making a mark in the AI + Mobile Messaging world. Suggesting a response based on past conversation and an analyzed personality may be the direction that the Google Assistant and Android Message integration will go in the future.

Google Assistant’s Mobile Focus

Increasing mobile integration seems to be how Google Assistant is working to distinguish itself from other voice assistants. Over the past four months, Google has announced an improved Assistant UI on Android phones, improved Assistant integration with Google Maps, an improved Android Auto UI, and over this past weekend announced that a dedicated button for Google Assistant would be included on more than 100 million smartphones this year. According to Voicebot’s Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report 2018, Google Assistant is the second most popular assistant used on mobile devices at 30%, with Apple Siri the most popular assistant on mobile at 44%. According to CIRP, Alexa is currently holding the U.S. Smart Speaker Installed Base Share at 70% and the Google Home product line share is at 24%. It makes a lot of sense for Google to focus on its larger base in mobile, where it is closer to reaching Siri’s 44%. The company’s smart speaker strategy definitely includes feature expansion but has been distinguished by a more rapid expansion of language support than its rivals.

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