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Google plans smarter messaging app to rival WhatsApp

Google is planning a new smarter messaging app that will bring together all its expertise in artificial intelligence, search technology and machine learning.

The new message app will have advanced chatbot features that Google hopes will enable them to close the gap between themselves and other social media giants such as Facebook.

Google’s new service is very likely to be built upon or at least to incorporate its chatbot technology. The driver for this new Google service is that messaging services are among the world’s most popular mobile apps, with more than two billion users, according to Portio Research Ltd.

However, so far Google’s two existing messaging services - Hangouts and Messenger - trail far behind Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China.

For its new messenger service, Google, plans to integrate chatbots, which are software programs that answer questions inside a messaging app. Users will be able to text friends or a chatbot, which will scour the Web and other sources for information to answer a question.
It is still unclear when Google will launch this new messenger service, or whether it will be any more successful than its previous attempts to enter this market. The problem Google has is that although Hangouts and Google+, were perfectly capable technologies people use messengers that their friends use, and this means building a large customer network, such as Facebook. Whether chatbots can be the killer app that users are looking for remains to be seen.

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

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