Two years ago, Google announced a new feature for Inbox called "Smart Reply." Smart Reply could automatically recommend replies for you to send based on the context of messages you received, and it later expanded to the likes of Allo and Android Messages.
Area 120 is a small "experimental program within Google", and it's dedicated to creating unique apps and services — many of them that never see the light of day. One of Area 120's latest projects is called "Reply", and its goal is to bring Smart Replies to a heap of other messaging apps.
In an email that was sent out to individuals signed up for Area 120's Early Access Program, Reply is said to work with Hangouts, Allo, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Android Messages, Skype, Slack, and even Twitter DMs. As you can see in the screenshot below, Reply looks a lot like Google's native Smart Replies.
However, Reply doesn't just replicate Smart Replies. Instead, it makes them even better.
In another screenshot that Area 120 shared, the team shows that Reply can take Smart Replies and elevate them to the next level. For example, if you get a text from your significant other asking when you'll be home, Reply can determine where you're at, where "home" is, and how long it'll take for you to get there — resulting in the following:
Additionally, Reply can determine when you're driving and reply to any texts to let people know you're behind the wheel, messages that Reply determines are more important than others (such as "Where are you?!") can still notify you even if your phone is on silent, and vacation responses will automatically be sent out if someone tries to contact you and Reply sees that you've noted on your calendar that you're taking some time off.
Reply is only available for Android users that are part of Area 120's Early Access Program, and while it's an ingenious idea, don't expect a public launch anytime soon. Reply is still very much so in its early development days, and it's entirely possible that Google will scrap the project at any given moment.
Android Messages is Google's best chance to compete with iMessage
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