Google Docs comments gets an AI boost with Smart Reply

Collaborating on documents should get a little faster thanks to Smart Reply in the Google Docs comments section.

Google has been expanding its AI-powered Smart Reply feature across Docs and Gmail for the past few years, and has now brought the time-saving feature to the comments section in Docs, enabling faster collaboration on shared documents.

Collaboration with online documents is all about comments and editing to get the message right, so Google has focused on bringing Smart Reply and its other AI feature, Smart Compose, to the comments section of Docs. After all, suggested edits shouldn't contain errors, even when they're written under tight deadlines.

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Now you can select Google's AI-written comment responses, or write your own -- in English.

Image: Google

Smart Reply in Docs comments suggests relevant replies, preferably written accurately with the right context and tone. 

The suggestions appear below the reply box on comment threads. For now, it works only in English. Users can choose a suggested reply or write their own. 

Google launched Smart Compose for Docs in 2020 to help users save time on sentences they frequently write and reduce the likelihood of spelling and grammatical errors.

Google's blogpost illustrates why small errors can undermine a message and that, even when using Docs with Smart Compose, mistakes can slip through the editing process. 

"Smart Reply can help saves you time replying to comments in Docs by suggesting relevant replies," Google says in a Workspace blogpost (our italics). 

The Smart Reply feature for comments in Docs is rolling out to everyone, including Google Workspace customers, G Suite Basic and Business customers, and people with a personal Google Account. 

In Workspace environments, the Smart Reply feature is on by default, but admins can disable it at Tools > Preferences > Show Smart Reply suggestions.

When Smart Reply is on, users can click on a comment thread in Google Docs, and Smart Reply will suggest responses if Google's AI has one. 

But, Google notes, Smart Reply may not present suggestions in all cases, and the comment thread must be in English for it to work. 

If the Docs user agrees to Google's suggestion, they can click on it and then send it as per Google's suggestion or edit the text before sharing it with co-authors.