Smart answers come to Android Auto, they just are not smart enough

Talking to your car is just two miles ago

Android Auto has done a lot to make texting while driving, less distracting and ultimately safer for everyone. However, there are times when you may not be able to rely on voice dictation to get your message out, and it may not be worth pulling over just to tap a short answer. Now Google brings the Smart Reply feature to Android Auto, so it only takes a single tap to return to someone.

When you now receive a message and press the notification to have it read out, one or two very short answers are given as suggestions. If you tap a reply, it will be sent through the appropriate messaging app and clear the message. There’s also a button at the top right to send a custom reply – or you can just say you want to reply – either method asks you to say your message.

Despite the name, Smart Reply is not quite as smart as some of the things we have come to expect from Google’s AI-based services like Assistant; although this seems to be quite typical performance of the Smart Reply feature as it is found in Messages and Gmail. After a number of tests with simple messages, the options provided were only occasionally useful, and some were completely junk.

Sometimes smiley emoji (or frown emoji) are offered instead of text, which really makes a lot of sense for a low-key answer, but may belong in a separate place with a few standard emoji in addition to the suggested answers.

Google first announced its plans to bring Smart Reply to Android Auto back in December, noting that it will be coming soon. It may have taken a little longer than many had expected, but it’s on its way now. Unlike many rollouts of Android Auto features, this one seems to be moving pretty fast with the initial reports that it hits this weekend, and quite a few people are confirming that it is already available.


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