How This Company Could Make Google Now and Hangouts Smarter
Google acquired Emu, a mobile messaging app that combines an IM client with a virtual assistant that automatically completes tasks based on the contextual information it gleans from your conversations. Though Google isn’t disclosing how much it paid for Emu or how it plans to use the company’s technology, it’s likely that Emu’s software will soon be integrated into Google products like Google Now, Google Hangouts, or even its Android operating system.
Emu confirmed the acquisition on its website, where it said that the Emu iOS app will be shut down and removed from the App Store on August 25. The company was founded in 2012 by veterans of Siri, Apple, Google, TechCrunch, and Yahoo Messenger. Emu’s co-founder and CEO Gummi Hafsteinsson previously worked for Google and for Apple, where he worked on Siri.
Emu debuted as an Android app, and its website describes the Emu messaging product as “texting with a built-in assistant.” On the surface, it seems similar in functionality to Siri, Google Now, or other virtual assistants. But Emu uses machine learning and natural language processing to understand messages and automatically add relevant information. Emu can schedule meetings, make restaurant reservations, buy movie tickets, or share locations in real time.
The potential for Google lies in Emu’s ability to monitor what people are saying, and that technology could help Google to extend the presence and capabilities of Google Now, its personal assistant that can already get information on nearby events, find traffic information and directions, deliver the weather forecast, give reminders, or provide updates on sports events.