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Saving keystrokes with Smart Compose

2/15/2022

Smart Compose arrived at Gmail in 2018, but despite its promising moniker has not yet composed a single paragraph for me. But as an autocomplete system, it works surprisingly well. Type "How" and gmail will add the words in dimmer type "are you?" Click the tab to accept or just keep typing what you really meant, such as "How was the game?" We are all familiar with "predictive text" everywhere these days, not to mention "autocorrect," on which hinge many priceless texts.

It seems natural that predictive text in used by our computer brains because, after all, our human brains use it all the time. When you listen to someone, even if you don't hear all the words, your brain fills in the empty spaces using our human version of autocomplete. How do Gmail and these other systems accomplish autocomplete? In the case of Gmail, every email that you send is data mined. Google compiles the most likely completions over many thousands of instances and then just helps you out as you type.

Personalization

Read More.

Smart Compose uses the same AI that is used to save us from spam overload. Of course, not everyone wants this extra helping hand and some people even consider it a little creepy, and so you have the option to turn off Smart Compose in your Gmail settings. While in your settings you might notice that there is another option - called "personalization"- that Google claims will tailor the autocomplete to your personal writing style. In my personal case, I have not been able to see a difference in turning it on or off and have not been able to see any examples in the Google guidance. There is one exception. If I type "My address is " or "I live at", personalization will let Gmail fill in my actual address. If personalization is turned off, no address is added.

Sometimes Google gets it wrong. I tried "How was the" and it autocompleted to "party." Well, Google certainly does not know my life. The autocompletes are not all the same. "How was" autocompleted to "your weekend." When I t typed "How are the kids?"and then "How was"," it autocompleted to "your trip." Obviously your autocompletes may not match mine.

Apparently, Google thinks that I am very sociable and willing to cooperate. "Hope to" autocompleted to "see you soon." "That sounds" autocompleted to "great." I'm hoping that's the personalization part kicking in and Google has recognized my slightly superior social skills.

Using with the IPhone

Your experience with Smart Compose also depends on your device. For example, if you use Gmail on an IPhone, there is no tab to accept the autocomplete. In this case, you just swipe your finger over the text to complete your sentence. On my very old Android tablet, no autocomplete appeared at all.

Today Data and Web Services, Inc.

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