Keeping up with the frantic pace of online chat can be stressful, but Google is testing a new tool called Reply that will take the hassle out of keeping up.
Reply will work with popular apps including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and Slack, interpreting what your friends are saying and suggesting replies based on your usual conversation style. Reply will also incorporate other information you've handed over to Google, such as your location and daily schedule, to give automated replies an extra twist of authenticity.
Speak for yourself
If you use the Gmail mobile app you'll be familiar with Smart Replies – the short suggested responses that sometimes appear when you read a message.
For example, if someone asks you if you're going to the cinema later, the app might offer the options 'Yes, I'm coming', 'No, I'm not', and 'Yes, see you there'. If you tap one, the app will open a reply window with the text already completed, ready to be edited or sent.
As the name suggests, Smart Replies are adapted over time to reflect the way you write. According to an email sent to testers and published by by Android Police (opens in new tab), Reply will go a step further, pulling in appointments from your calendar and even adapting responses based on where you are.
"When you’re driving, Reply can silence your phone and tell people who message you that you can’t chat right now," says the email from Google's testbed for experimental tools, Area 120 (opens in new tab).
The app will also give you a kick if you're running late: "When you get an urgent message like 'We’re waiting for you!' Reply can make sure to get your attention even when your phone is silent."
Smart Replies have to be confirmed before they're sent, but according to Area 120's testing email, Reply responses will be "literally one click away".
If you're the hands-off type, you might be able to subcontract a sizeable chunk of your social life – and if it works as well as advertised, your loved ones won't even know.