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Google’s going after Facebook, could announce chatbot play of its own this week

Ken Wolter /123rf
Facebook and Microsoft may have been the first major tech companies to make plays into the chatbot market, but Google isn’t going to take that sitting down. Reports indicate that Google will be making some chatbot-related announcements of its own at Google I/O.

The report comes from The Information, which notes that Google has missed the boat when it comes to a new wave of popular chat apps — Hangouts and Google Messenger don’t come close to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat when it comes to number of users.

While Hangouts may not compare to Facebook Messenger, Android users, many of whom use Hangouts as their main texting and messaging app, have a lot to gain from getting access to chatbots.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Google integrating chatbots into its services. The Wall Street Journal noted back in December that Google was considering integrating chatbots into a messaging app.

Chatbots themselves are essentially artificially intelligent micro-assistants that answer questions and offer information within a chat app. For example, the CNN chatbot in Facebook Messenger can offer information about the latest headlines and news stories, essentially eliminating the need for a dedicated news app. Part of what makes them so useful is that they don’t require extra apps to function, meaning that they can be accessed just as easily on low-power phones and devices as on flagship phones that have the capability to install power-hungry apps. They’re also all located within a central app — a chat app, meaning you don’t have to change apps to perform different tasks.

Still, chatbots have gotten mixed reviews — proving how early in their development they are. It will be interesting to see whether or not Google can bring something new to the table rather than just implementing chatbots into a chat app, the same thing that both Facebook and Microsoft have done.

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