Friday, April 19, 2024

Gmail is getting an AI-powered writing assistant on Android, and I’m furious

Hot on the heels of the arrival of Google Bard, the tech giant’s answer to artificially intelligent internet darling of the moment ChatGPT, Google is bringing a new AI-powered feature to Gmail on Android devices – the ability to ask an AI to write an email for you.

The way this will work is pretty straightforward: a new icon (a wand with sparkles, because AI is simply magical) will take you to a text box, where you can type in a short prompt that Gmail’s generative AI will use to produce an email. If your prompt is too short, Gmail will suggest that you ‘Keep writing to create a preview.’ Once the bot is happy with your prompt, you can hit ‘Create’ and boom, your email is written.

Google is also working on a ‘Refine my message’ option, which will allow you to ask the AI assistant to edit an email you’ve already written. For example, you can ask it to shorten a message for brevity’s sake, or automatically ‘formalize’ it with more professional language. Amusingly, there are also plans for an ‘I’m feeling lucky’ option, which, uh… I don’t know why you’d want to randomly generate an email to someone, but sure.

Four example screenshots showing how the new AI-assisted 'Help me write' features will work in Gmail for Android.

(Image credit: Google)

With ChatGPT coming to Microsoft 365 after its initial integration into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Google is clearly worried about being on the back foot in the AI arms race. As such, Bard will be coming to Docs too – though it looks like Google is taking a marginally more cautious approach than Microsoft, which may be wise given how poorly Bard’s initial showing went.


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