Google embraces chatbots

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Google is getting in on the “bots” game, joining Facebook and Microsoft.

This summer, the search giant plans to launch a new messaging app called Allo, Google representatives announced at the company’s I/O developer conference on Wednesday. The app incorporates Google’s intelligent assistant technology and is to allow users to accomplish more things without having to launch other apps.

By simply typing questions or commands within Allo, users will be able to make dinner reservations, check sports scores, find photos or check their flight reservations. Allo’s built-in bot — dubbed simply “the Google assistant” — is designed to carry on and understand conversations. So it can understand the context questions are asked in.

So, in one demonstration, Google representatives showed how users could use Allo to find information about soccer star Cristano Ronaldo and then get Allo to find videos of him by just typing “best tricks.” The Google assistant was able to glean that the user was interested in seeing videos of Ronaldo from the context of the conversation.

Google’s move into text bots follows Facebook and Microsoft. At its Build conference earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it’s building bot technology into the latest version of Skype, the widely used messaging app that it owns. Meanwhile, Facebook at its F8 conference last month unveiled similar features that are coming to its popular Messenger app.

Bots have the potential to make it less important which operating system users have on their smartphones. If users can accomplish tasks from within a single app, it may no longer matter as much what apps they have available to them in their smartphone’s app store.

Photo: Google CEO Sundar Pichai on stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View during his keynote presentation at his company’s I/O developer conference. (Troy Wolverton/Mercury News)

 

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