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Google said to be planning new messaging app that’ll let you text a chatbot

Sounds like Google is creating a new messaging app, but one with an additional element that it hopes will win it plenty of fans.

Besides allowing friends to easily converse like any regular messaging service, the Web giant also wants to incorporate a so-called chatbot into the app so users can get quick answers to questions, according to the Wall Street Journal. For those not in the know, a chatbot could be simply described as a complex software-based system that’s capable of chatting with humans in a very natural way.

While it’s already possible get useful responses from its Google Now digital assistant, it seems the company wants to create a far more advanced system and integrate it with the messaging app. With this approach in mind, Google is expected to draw on its vast knowledge and experience in search and artificial intelligence for its rumored app, while it’s also suggested it may allow outside developers to link their own chatbots to widen the software’s scope and capabilities.

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Using the app, people would type in queries in the form of text messages. Google’s software would then direct users to the most suitable chatbots, similar to how its search function currently sends people to specific websites.

There’s no word on the name of the app or when Google might roll it out, though it’s reported that the Mountain View company has been working on its development for the last year or so.

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The challenge for Google will of course be to get users on board, no easy task when you consider how many established and popular messaging apps already exist – WhatsApp, BBM, Viber, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger to name but a few. Google’s Hangouts tool has never really taken off as a messaging service, a likely factor in the company’s apparent move toward the creation of a new messaging app.

Google could be making something to similar to M, an upcoming feature of Facebook’s messaging app that can understand user queries and requests, and even perform actions like purchasing items and making reservations. M, however, is powered partly by humans, not just chatbots.

The Journal suggests Google’s interest in such an app is a strategic move by the company as “messaging apps and chatbots threaten Google’s role as the Internet’s premier discovery engine.” Google hasn’t confirmed if it’s working on new messaging software, though its determination to retain dominance in the search and discovery market means such a product may not be far off. We’ll keep you posted.