Google Recruits AI Chatbots To Stage Messaging Comeback

Even though Google is much more than a search company these days -- and that's especially true if you include Alphabet, the recently formed parent outfit that oversees many of Google's side businesses and technologies -- leveraging its expertise in search can help set its services apart. In fact, that how it plans to make a comeback in mobile messaging.

Google already owns and operates a pair of messaging services, those being Hangouts and Messenger. However, they're also-rans in the messaging space that's dominated by Facebook's WeChat and Messenger, and Tencent's WeChat, which is the top messaging service in China. That doesn't sit right with Google.


Apparently Google's answer is to build a new mobile messaging service, one that will use its artificial intelligence technology through chatbots. Why chatbots? They're not meant to replace human interaction, but to answer questions users might have. The integrated chatbots will be able to look things up on the web.

None of this is official -- it's coming from "people familiar with the matter" who spoke with The Wall Street Journal -- so naturally there's nothing to report directly from Google. Even so, we can think up ways it could be handy to have integrated chatbots. For example, maybe you're chatting with a buddy about going to the movies but don't know what's playing or when. Rather than open a separate app, like the web browser, and relay what you find, you could ping the chatbot and see a list of movies and times right in the messaging thread.

Chatbots and AI schemes aren't just gimmicky companions. Some can translate text while others base their responses on things they remember about you. Maybe you're a vegetarian. If a chatbot knows that, it can make more relevant restaurant recommendations.

That's all to say there's a world of potential in Google's supposed plans. Whether integrated chatbots will prove interesting enough is something we'll have to wait and see.