The Google is working on a new messaging app that uses artificial intelligence to provide users with answers to search queries, according to a new report.
Details on exactly how the messaging service would work are slim but chatbots could play a significant role, according to The Wall Street Journal who first reported the plans. The goal, according to the report, is to allow users to engage with chatbots as another means of accessing search results and other information.
In addition to messaging friends, users of the unnamed service could engage with chatbots to get answers to questions they may otherwise use Google’s search engine for users of the unnamed service could engage with chatbots to get answers to questions they may otherwise use Google’s search engine for. The company would “steer users to specific chatbots, much as its search engine directs users to relevant websites,” the report says. Additionally, Google may open the service to third-party developers who would build their own bots to run on the service.
Though it’s unclear when such a messaging app would launch, Google has reportedly been working on it for “at least a year,” and the company even tried to acquire 200 Labs — a startup that creates chatbots, according to The Wall Street Journal’s sources — to bolster the effort. The startup, which hosts chatbots on the messaging app Telegram, reportedly declined the offer.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
Google is far from the first tech company to integrate artificial intelligence into a messaging product. Facebook is also working on an A.I.-based assistant, called “M,” which is part of the company’s Messenger app. Though M relies on a combination of human “supervisors” and software right now — it’s still in an early experimental phase — Facebook will likely aim to reduce its dependence on humans as it looks to expand it to more people.
Messaging apps are among the most popular apps on any platform, particularly in Asia where apps like WeChat dominate many aspects of daily life. Though Google hasn’t been very successful with prior attempts at social services, the company is likely hoping it will be able to both reach new users and keep existing ones engaged as messaging platforms become more ubiquitous.