Gmail, Google Photos Getting Big AI Improvements

MOUNTAIN VIEW -- At Google's annual I/O developer conference today (May 8), the company outlined how artificial intelligence will continue to drive innovation, including some new features coming to Google products you may already be using.

Take Gmail, which just saw a redesign that introduced a new look to the desktop version of Google's mail client. Google's adding some AI-powered capabilities, too, in the form of Smart Compose.

The Smart Compose feature will use contextual clues from your email — say the subject line and who you're sending the message to — to auto-suggest words and phrases as you type your email. The suggestions will appear in faint type ahead of your cursor; hitting the tab button will add them to your message.

MORE: Google I/O 2018: All the Biggest Announcements

Google CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated Smart Compose by writing an email with the subject line "Taco Tuesday." Based on that subject, the Smart Compose feature could fill in the ingredients, the time of the get-together and even an address. (That last feature will come in handy for those of us who frequently have to enter a shipping address into a Gmail message.)

Smart Compose will be coming to Gmail this month, Pichai said.

AI will also power some forthcoming changes to Google Photos. A Smart Suggestions feature will notice through facial recognition that you're browsing through photos that include a specific friend, and provide the one-tap ability to share those photos with that person. Photos will also add the ability to fix photo exposure or colorize black-and-white photos with a single tap. (And based on the colorized photo Pichai showed off during a demo, these won't look like those horribly colorized black-and-white movies that Ted Turner tried to roll out in the 1980s.)

One of the biggest cheers during the Photos demo occurred when Pichai showed how the AI in Photos could recognize a document you've photographed and automatically convert it into a PDF that you can then fill in.

Google expects to add these new features to Photos in the next few months.

Pichai credited the new AI features to Google's investment in computational powers. As part of that, he also announced a new version of the tensor processing unit Google built to accelerate machine learning. The new chips are so powerful, Pichai said, that the company had to introduce liquid cooling to its data centers.

Image Credits: Google

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