Google tweaked its Smart Reply feature because it would repeatedly suggest users send ‘I love you’

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Google recently made its handy ‘Smart Reply’ feature available to Gmail’s 1 billion-plus users. 

But early prototypes of the tool didn’t work so seamlessly, according to the Wall Street Journal

In one case, the algorithms powering Gmail’s ‘Smart Reply’ feature would suggest users send ‘I love you’ as a response to almost every email. 

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Google recently made its handy 'Smart Reply' feature available to Gmail's users. But early prototypes of the tool didn't work so seamlessly, with one goof suggesting 'I love you' 

Google recently made its handy 'Smart Reply' feature available to Gmail's users. But early prototypes of the tool didn't work so seamlessly, with one goof suggesting 'I love you' 

Google recently made its handy ‘Smart Reply’ feature available to Gmail’s users. But early prototypes of the tool didn’t work so seamlessly, with one goof suggesting ‘I love you’ 

HOW TO SWITCH GMAIL’S SMART REPLY OFF 

To disable the ‘Smart Reply’ feature on a mobile device, simply go to ‘Settings’ and uncheck the box next to ‘Smart Reply.’ 

But for now, there’s no way to disable the feature on the web. 

However, users can return to the ‘classic’ version of Gmail on the web by selecting that option under ‘Settings.’ 

Smart Reply rolled out to Gmail users as part of a broader redesign of the email client. 

Soon, the feature will become a default setting for all email accounts – an update that has both excited and annoyed Gmail users.  

It offers short responses to emails, like ‘It was great seeing you too,’ ‘I’ll look into it’ or ‘Sounds good, thanks for the heads up!’

Others are even shorter, like ‘Nope, that’s fine’ or ‘Yes, I’ll be home.’ 

Phrase suggestions are formulated using machine learning, which scans an email for different types of words, sentences and predicts possible responses. 

Approximately 10 percent of responses are generated using Smart Reply, Google told the Journal. 

When Smart Reply was in the early stages of development, it faced its fair share of goofs, according to the firm.

The feature’s algorithms noticed that ‘Sent from my iPhone’ was a common phrase in emails and began suggesting it as a reply. 

It didn’t take very long before Google’s engineers noticed this and rectified the issue.

In another case, the prototype had a ‘propensity to respond with “I love you” to seemingly anything,’ Ajit Varma, director of product management at Google, told the Journal. 

‘You don’t want to respond that to your boss,’ he added. 

Soon, Smart Reply feature will become a default setting for all email accounts - an update that has both excited and annoyed Gmail users. Pictured is an example of how the feature works

Soon, Smart Reply feature will become a default setting for all email accounts - an update that has both excited and annoyed Gmail users. Pictured is an example of how the feature works

Soon, Smart Reply feature will become a default setting for all email accounts – an update that has both excited and annoyed Gmail users. Pictured is an example of how the feature works

It offers short responses to emails, like 'It was great seeing you too,' 'I'll look into it' or 'Sounds good, thanks for the heads up!' Others are shorter, like 'Nope, that's fine' or 'Yes, I'll be home'

It offers short responses to emails, like 'It was great seeing you too,' 'I'll look into it' or 'Sounds good, thanks for the heads up!' Others are shorter, like 'Nope, that's fine' or 'Yes, I'll be home'

It offers short responses to emails, like ‘It was great seeing you too,’ ‘I’ll look into it’ or ‘Sounds good, thanks for the heads up!’ Others are shorter, like ‘Nope, that’s fine’ or ‘Yes, I’ll be home’

While Smart Reply sometimes struggles to discern context when it scans an email, Google says the software does learn over time.    

Gmail alters the tone and suggested responses the more you use the feature. 

For example, if a user prefers to use a period at the end of each phrase instead of an exclamation point, Gmail will alter that user’s canned responses accordingly.

The firm also explained that while it does read emails to generate responses, that it keeps ‘privacy and security paramount.’

It doesn’t look at a user’s activity on other apps and sites, even Google-owned ones like Google Calendar, to generate responses. 

Smart Compose, a feature like Smart Reply that predicts sentences as you type, will also be available in Gmail later this month. 

Users can opt out of the Smart Reply feature, even if they’re using Gmail on a desktop computer. 

It’s unclear if they can opt out of Smart Compose as well.     



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