Google Bard AI's addition to Messages could change the way we text forever

Close up of Google Bard running on Google Pixel 7 Pro phone
(Image credit: Future / James Ide)

Google’s experimental AI chatbot Bard may be coming to the Google Messages app in the near future – and it promises to bring some major upgrades to your phone-based chats. 

Tipster Assembler Debug uncovered the feature in the beta code of the Google Messages app. The AI-enhanced features are not yet available, and Assembler Debug states that it doesn’t seem to work. However, according to leaked images, you can use Bard to help you write text messages, as well as arrange a date and craft a message calling in sick to your boss, alongside other difficult conversations. 

Bard in Google Messages could also help to translate conversations and identify images, as well as explore interests. The code suggests it could provide book recommendations and recipe ideas, too.

According to the examination of its code, the app is believed to use your location data and past chat information to help generate accurate replies. However, you can provide feedback to Bard's response with a thumbs up or down by long pressing, as well as copy, forward, and favorite its answers, thus helping the AI learn if its reply was appropriate. 

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The project codename “Penpal” was noted in a beta version (20240111_04_RC00) of the Google Messages app. According to 9to5Google’s insights of the beta code, Bard can be accessed by selecting the “New conversation” option, allowing you to select Bard as a stand-alone chat option.

You must be eighteen-years-old to use it and conversations with Bard in the Messages app are not end-to-end encrypted or treated as private, unlike messages exchanged with your contacts. So you might want to avoid sending personal or sensitive messages through the app when Bard is enabled. 

Google states that chat histories are kept for eighteen months to help enhance Bard and could be reviewed by a human, but no information is associated with your account beyond three years. Google recommends not to say anything to Bard you wouldn't want others to see. Conversations with Bard could be reviewed by Google but are not accessible to other users. However, you can delete your chat history with Bard anytime, which will take 72 hours to remove the data.

Echoes of Allo

Bard AI's inclusion into the Messages app seems slightly reminiscent of the past project Google Allo, which incorporated the Google Assistant in both stand-alone requests and chats. This service was shut down in 2019 but it could live on in some way through this Bard integration.

When asked directly Bard said: “While I can't say for certain right now, there are strong indications that I might become available with Google RCS messages in the future." 

Bard then went on to say that integration with Google Messages was being tested in March 2023 and the functionality aligns with Bard's capabilities to process language, generate text, and answer questions, as well as summarize information making it a natural fit for enhancing messages. 

The integration of AI into messaging apps reflects many companies' eagerness to infuse AI technologies into their upcoming smartphones, with Samsung’s Galaxy AI features being a recent example. Google, however, is no stranger to AI tools in its phones with features like Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, or Live Translate all being staples of Pixel devices.

The implications of AI being added to messages are also intriguing, meaning you may never know if that thoughtful reply or fantastic date idea was thought up by a human or their AI assistant.

Although Bard’s inclusion in Google's messaging app isn’t yet available and no release date has been announced, Google could decide to not continue with the project. Google could go the Samsung route and make its functionality a subscription-based feature. However, all of this is speculation right now and we’ll have to wait to see exactly how much Bard will change the Messages app in the future.  

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Staff Writer, Mobile Computing

James Ide is a writer for TechRadar specializing in phones and tablets, having previously worked at The Daily Mirror since 2016, covering news and reviews.  


James loves messing with the latest tech, especially phones due to their incredibly rapid pace of development.


When not surrounded by various devices and/or tinkering with gadgets while putting them through their paces, James has a love of handheld consoles.


He is almost the textbook definition of a geek, who loves sci-fi, comics, games and of course, all things tech. If you think you have a story for him or just want to challenge him at Smash Bros, get in touch.