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Google’s AI-powered Smart Compose feature is coming to Docs

Google’s AI-powered Smart Compose feature is coming to Docs


Only for those who sign up for the beta

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Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is bringing its Smart Compose feature to Google Docs, meaning G Suite users will, in future, be served AI-powered writing suggestions outside of their inbox. Though for the time being, only domain administrators can sign up for the beta.

The search giant originally unveiled Smart Compose last year, following Gmail’s earlier Smart Reply feature. Smart Reply suggests short responses to emails, while Smart Compose is more meddlesome, actively suggesting how to finish your next sentence.

Suggestions from Smart Compose are often bland

The feature uses Google’s machine learning models to make its suggestions, which study your past writing to personalize its prompts (in Gmail you can turn this feature off in settings). In theory, that means Smart Compose writes a little like you, though in practice the majority of its suggestions play it safe, using bland phrasing and corporate speak.

Adding Smart Compose to Google Docs could be a big step up for the tool, challenging its AI auto suggestions with a larger range of writing styles. While emails tend to be more action-orientated (“Are you interested in X?,” “Are you coming to Y,” “Please, please, please shut up about Z”), Google Docs is home to, well, everything else — from schoolwork, to corporate planning documents, to first drafts of that novel you’ll finish one day.

Smart Compose for Docs in a mobile device.
Smart Compose for Docs in a mobile device.
Credit: Google

To begin with, though, Google is limiting Smart Compose’s reach and targeting businesses only. Smart Compose for Docs is only available in beta, only in English, and only domain administrators can volunteer to test it. (If that’s you, you can sign up for it here.)

Hopefully, though, in the future Smart Compose will be available more generally in documents. Although many people seem to dislike Smart Compose and Smart Reply, they’re certainly some of Google’s most intriguing new tools in recent years, hinting at a future where automated systems are increasingly helpful in day-to-day writing tasks.