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Google planning new messaging app to take on Facebook with 'chat robots'

Published 24/12/2015

Users will be able to talk to their friends by exchanging messages or talk to a chatbot
Users will be able to talk to their friends by exchanging messages or talk to a chatbot

Google is building a new messaging service that will use artificial intelligence and “chat robots” to take on rival companies like Facebook.

The internet giant’s new software will mean people can send a message to an expert chatbot which will then source the information they need from across the web.

Plans for the new service, reported by The Wall Street Journal, signal a new front in the war between rival internet companies. Google is the top search engine with 90 per cent of the market, having seen off earlier competition from the likes of Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com.

But its two messaging services – Hangouts and Messenger – have failed to match the popularity of Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger, or WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China.

While Google has so far declined to comment on the plans, it is understood that the new service will combine chatbots and software which answers your questions inside a messaging app.

Users will be able to talk to their friends by exchanging messages or talk to a chatbot which will scour the internet and direct them to the website they need.

The project is believed to be spearheaded by Google veteran and vice president of communications Nick Fox, who was recently seeking to buy a small start-up company called 200 Labs Inc which builds chatbots. Messaging services are among the world’s most popular mobile applications, with more than two billion users according to Portio Research.

“All users care about is a convenient way to find what they are looking for and if Google isn’t in front of the consumer that is a problem for them,” said Scott Stanford, co-founder of venture-capital firm Sherpa Capital, which has invested in another messaging start-up.

“Messaging is a subset of the internet where Google is not strong. They have to win and be the dominant player in messaging.”

Google has already carried out extensive research into artificial intelligence, with researchers in June announcing a new chatbot that learns how to talk with humans by analysing dialogue from films.

Google’s current search engine is already capable of basic conversations.

Independent

Independent News Service

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