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GREEN SQUIGGLES

Google Docs is finally adding a feature Microsoft Word has had for 20 years

Google
What’s new is old.
  • Simone Stolzoff
By Simone Stolzoff

Technology Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Google wants to be your word processor, editor, and, if you’ll let it, your ghostwriter.

At its annual Cloud Next conference, Google announced Tuesday (July 24) a grammar-check feature for Google Docs and an expansion of its “Smart Compose” tool for Gmail and Hangouts, which automatically suggests responses based on a message’s content. With the first announcement, Google can now help settle those internal affect/effect debates.

It’s about time.

Microsoft Word has been underlining bad grammar with green squiggles since the mid 1990s. However, David Thacker, Google’s VP of product for G Suite, claims Google’s AI-powered approach to grammar correction is completely different. That’s because Google is treating bad grammar like a translation problem. Instead of translating from, say, French to English, Google Docs will now be able to translate improper English to proper English, Thacker told the press ahead of today’s event. And because it uses machine learning, the tool should constantly get better.

(San Francisco-based startup, Grammarly, was likely not thrilled by the announcement. The 10-year-old company has raised $110 million dollars to build similar AI-powered grammar tools.)

Google’s translation algorithms claim to have reached near human-level accuracy in recent years. For users, these new features will help alleviate the burden of editing, which can also be easily solved if they don’t have to write at all.

The Smart Compose feature will be rolled out to all Gmail users in the coming weeks.

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