Gmail has been rolling out a new feature called “Smart Compose” that “suggests complete sentences in your emails” to save your precious fingers from actually having to type the whole thing out.
Smart Compose builds on Google’s “Smart Reply” feature that offers an automatic selection of simple replies you can send, based on the email you received and how you normally write (for example, “Thanks!” versus “Thanks.”).
Now, with Smart Compose, Gmail is offering tailored suggestions for completing your sentences as you type, and it’s delivering them to you at lightning speed. According to Google’s AI Blog, since it “provides predictions on a per-keystroke basis, it must respond ideally within 100ms for the user not to notice any delays.”
The idea is the responses will improve over time as the AI learns more about how you communicate. “At launch, it can fill in common phrases and relevant addresses, like that of your home and office; in the future, it will get smarter — learning your most-used greetings,” according to a recent G Suite update.
Google already conducts “automatic processing of emails” to weed out spam and phishing scams. The company said in a blog post this also “allows us to give you intelligent features like Smart Reply that help you be more productive.” (In 2017, Google stopped showing Gmail users ads based on the content of their emails.)
When Gmail users started noticing Smart Compose popping up in their emails, many of them had strong feelings. Their reactions on social media have run the gamut, from experiencing shock and amazement over how accurate Gmail’s predictions are to feeling creeped out by the AI and what it could mean for our privacy. Here’s a selection of reactions.