Google Smart Reply 

Released: 2015

Google's Smart Reply tool uses machine learning to recognise which emails require a response and generate three short relevant and appropriate answers based on past responses. 

First introduced in 2015 to Google's now defunct Inbox app and extended to Gmail in 2017 and Google Docs in 2021, Smart Reply has been seen as a convenient way to respond quickly to emails that deserve fast, simple answers. On the other hand, some see it as canned, bland, and invasive. 

Accuracy, reliability

Some users and commentators have complained that Smart Reply is accurate and reliable. For example, some report seeing 'Sent from my iPhone' as a suggested reply, while others have spied 'I love you'. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the responses generated by Smart Reply can sound 'anachronistic, curt, or out of character'. Writer Seamus O'Reilly commented in The Guardian equated Smart Reply with 'alien weirdness' and said he thought the responses came across as tone-deaf.


While Google attempted to placate users about privacy concerns at the launch of Smart Reply, some people quickly started complaining that the system felt 'creepy' and invasive, and that they had no way to opt -out. 

In 2020, Google announced it would allow users to opt-out of Smart Reply and other 'smart' features, partly as an attempt to persuade regulators that it offered 'genuine' user choice around how it processes data. 

Operator: Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google

Country: USA; Global

Sector: Multiple

Purpose: Respond to communication

Technology: NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy

Transparency: Complaints/appeals

Page info
Type: System
Published: July 2023