Google’s working on a chatbot-filled messaging service

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Google isn’t content to let Facebook dominate the messaging market in the West. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is working on a platform that will allow consumers to message assistive “chatbots” as well as real-live humans.

Details about the service are scarce. A name wasn’t revealed, for instance, nor was a timeframe for when consumers might expect to be able to use the app. But the report did reveal that Google’s been working on the product for about a year.

Including the chatbots will make this new service different from Hangouts, Messenger, and the other communications platforms Google has introduced. (Anyone remember Wave, the company’s short-lived real-time messaging tool?)

The chatbots, according to the Journal’s report, will allow people to send a query to an automated tool that “will scour the Web and other sources for information to answer a question” much like the question-answering function of Google Now.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Google’s strength is its ability to answer questions, whether it’s through a search engine or a virtual assistant, and flexing that muscle to popularize a messaging app would make sense for the company.

It would also let Google compete with Facebook’s M, a partly-automated tool that uses a mix of artificial intelligence and human workers to answer questions, doodle, find information, book appointments, and perform other functions.

If Google could use its artificial intelligence prowess to provide a service similar to M without requiring humans to perform any tasks, it could give the company just what it needs to compete with Facebook Messenger’s growing dominance.

And, with both of these companies working to create messaging apps that don’t restrict people to communicating with other humans, the combined force could help messaging services become the central hubs of consumers’ digital lives.

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Glenn

“Wave” was a messaging tool on Firefly/Serenity. “Google Wave” was a collaboration tool (which would, naturally, offer some limited messaging functionality–not really enough to make it a messaging tool though… but maybe Apache will flesh that out eventually?).

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