Google's newly tipped messaging app has chatbot assistants

Google's artificial intelligence is being used to create a new mobile messaging app, according to sources. The messaging service will differ from Hangouts via the inclusion of chatbot assistants tasked with answering questions and following commands issued through the messaging app. Sources say the chatbots will hunt down the answer to users' questions by searching the Web and "other sources," check the weather, set reminders, and more.

Facebook in particular has been dominating the mobile messaging segment with its own Messenger app. Unlike Google's own offerings, Messenger is capable of far more than just swapping chats: it can be used to send money, for example, and more recently it added a ride-ordering transportation feature.

All that pales, though, in light of Facebook's "M", a personal assistant that exists within the social network's own messaging app. "M" uses Facebook's own artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand chats from users and perform actions based on them, such as booking flights or setting a Google calendar requirement, finding restaurant reviews, and more.

According to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Google is working on something similar, and it'll come in the form of a new presently-unnamed mobile messaging app. When the new messaging service will launch isn't known at this point.

Sources say Google's Nick Fox has been directing a team tasked with developing the service for a year or more. Fox reportedly tried to acquire chatbot startup 200 Labs Inc, but was turned down by the company. Google's own undertaking is said to be similar to what 200 Labs is doing — using chatbots with different specialities to dish up information when users request it.

This new messaging service would in some ways turn users away from Google Search, having them instead use text messages to seek information that chatbots will find and offer as a middle-man between search and user. Sources say Google will probably allow third-party chatbots to operate, though details on all that aren't clear at this point.

Google has not confirmed the rumor.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal