You can get better and more personalised suggestions in Messages while keeping your conversations private on your phone, using a privacy-preserving approach called federated learning.
How it works
Smart Reply works by downloading a special piece of suggestion software – a machine learning model – to your phone, and that model selects the best replies to suggest in your Messages conversations. With 'Improve Messages' turned on, Messages uses federated learning to update that model based on how you use Messages. Federated learning runs when your phone is plugged in, not being used and on Wi-Fi.
How federated learning makes smart replies more useful
When the Smart Reply feature is turned on, Messages shows you suggestions that you can quickly use in conversations; for example, 'Amazing!' or 'Be there soon'. When you tap one of the suggestions, you help to teach the machine learning model on your phone which smart reply suggestions are most relevant for which conversations. As the model improves, your phone extracts a summary of what has been learned and securely transmits it to Google’s federated learning server. This summary can't identify you, and does not contain your messages.
The federated learning server combines hundreds of summaries computed by different Messages users together, using a technology called secure aggregation. This ensures that Google can only read the combined results, and never the individual summaries, which are also deleted immediately. The combined summaries are integrated into the new version of the Smart Reply suggestions model, enabling all Messages users to benefit from the improvements, while maintaining the privacy of all the participants.
You're in control
Improved suggestions are turned on automatically. To turn them off:
- On your Android phone or tablet, open the Messages app .
- Tap More Settings Help improve Messages.
- Turn off Improve Messages.