Google rumored to be working on Siri & Facebook-like chatbots for new messaging app

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Google is allegedly developing a new mobile messaging app that would include chatbots, capable of answering users' questions by scouring the Web and other resources.

Google VP of communications Nick Fox has been leading a team on the project for at least a year, sources explained to the Wall Street Journal. There's no indication of when the app might launch, or what it might be called.

The technology is said to be similar in concept to the chatbots used by a Telegram, a 200 Labs app. Fox reportedly offered to buy 200 Labs in October, but was turned down.

Google's project will likely let outside developers build chatbots of their own, one of the sources said. The Journal added that people asking questions in the app would be guided towards specific bots.

Such an app could offer competition for Siri, the virtual assistant on iOS devices, as well as Facebook's fledgling "M" service linked to Facebook Messenger. Manned partly by humans, M can not only handle regular search requests but tasks like shopping, travel bookings, or even holding a place in a phone queue.

For Google the move may be a necessary step to keep it ahead in search. If services like Siri and M become dominant, they could potentially cut into Google's marketshare.

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