Google likes to talk about its AI prowess, but much of that is hidden from view. There are precious few places in the Google ecosystem where the power of the company’s AI is on display for the average user. Gmail’s Smart Compose feature is one of them (in addition to StarCraft-playing AIs), and that feature is about to expand to Google Docs.
Google rolled out Smart Compose last year, starting with a brief exclusive on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. It’s now available on Gmail across the board, even on the desktop. This differs from Smart Reply, which encompasses AI-powered replies in messaging apps and in Gmail. Smart Compose suggests phrases in the body of emails as you type. For example, it can recognize the name of the original sender and suggest something like “Hi [sender name]” or offer to fill in the end of a sentence or phrase you’ve typed repeatedly.
Smart Compose uses machine learning to churn through all the text you enter into Gmail, tuning its suggestions to your style. Replying to emails is often a rote and soul-sucking endeavor, so having some help from AI might be desirable. You can fill in Smart Reply suggestions by swiping across the screen on a phone or pressing tab on a computer keyboard.
Adding this feature to Google Docs will provide many more opportunities for Google’s AI to finish your thoughts. Documents are also likely to have much more varied writing than emails, which are short and to the point by their nature. Smart Compose suggestions also tend to be very bland and predictable, even if they are keyed into your past writing. You might want to spice up your writing if Smart Compose starts finishing too many of your sentences in a document.
Smart Compose for Google Docs is starting in beta testing for businesses using G Suite accounts. The G Suite administrator will need to opt into the feature for any users to see it, and the page to do that is already live. Presumably, Smart Compose for all Google Docs users will roll out at a later date.
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