Android and Me

[Update] Emu Messenger: An AI-enhanced SMS app

6 months ago 22

Update:

I mentioned in my thoughts at the bottom of the post a beef I had with Emu and not being able to copy text from the SMS. Well, Dave Feldman, the Co-Founder of Emu responded in the comments section and said you can copy text. In Android you typically need to long press text to copy it, but in Emu “to copy the text of a message: just swipe right-to-left across the message and you’ll see a Copy button.” Feldman writes, “I know that’s a little non-standard; we felt that it was worth it to keep the push-to-talk functionality super-simple when your hands are full or you’re on the go.” So there you have it. It’s a little unconventional, but the functionality is there.

Original article:

Emu Messenger is dropping its beta with a bang. According to Emu’s creators, who happen to be veterans of Siri, Apple, Google, TechCrunch and Yahoo! Messenger, Emu is a messaging app for Android with a built-in assistant, offering information and suggestions based on your discussion. It works over SMS and can be used instead of the built-in Messages app.

What can this built-in assistant do? Well, Emu reads your SMS messages and adds “magic buttons” for scheduling meetings, making restaurant reservations, buying movie tickets and sharing location in real time. It’s making your SMS experience smarter and more integrated with the other apps you’re already using. That like a pretty useful thing to me.

Watch on YouTube

Here are some of Emu’s main new features:

Marco PoloEmu-day-graph

You can share your live location in Emu for 30 minutes; we call it Marco Polo. Share with anyone – if they don’t have Emu, they’ll get a link over SMS. The recipient’s location is not shared back.

When Emu believes the appropriate response to a message would be to share back location (e.g., “where r u?”), it will show a Marco Polo button next to the message.

Or, send your location any time by pressing the Send button when the message input is empty.

Scheduling

When Emu detects a discussion about dates & times, you’ll see a snapshot of your calendar. You can see at a glance whether you’re free around that time and quickly add the new event to your calendar.

Things to try: Send a message “want to have lunch tomorrow?” or “dinner at 8pm on Saturday” and notice how your calendar is displayed inline for the appropriate date and time.

Emu-moviesRestaurants

If you mention nearby restaurants, Emu will bring in information about them, including Yelp reviews, directions and, if available, OpenTable reservations.

Movies

If you’re chatting about going to the movies, Emu will provide an overview of movies showing near your home or information about a specific movie mentioned, along with showtimes and theaters.

Snooze

If you receive an important message, but would like to be reminded of it at a more appropriate moment, you can snooze the message. Just swipe the message right-to-left, hit snooze and pick when you’d like to be notified: first thing in the morning, when you leave here, when you get home or when you get to work. Emu uses your location data to automatically detect home and work – this may take up to 24 hours to configure.

Push to Talk

Typing messages can be a pain when your hands are full. With push-to-talk, it’s easier than ever to dictate messages. Just press and hold anywhere in a chat, then speak your message.

My thoughts

I’ve been using Emu for a little less than a week now, and I do have a few thoughts on it. My first concern with Emu was security. Emu is obviously reading my texts. Are my texts secure ? What are they doing with them? I read through their privacy policy and it seemed pretty typical. Yes, Emu is collecting information from your texts, but your texts are encrypted. They say they will pretty much only use the information they gather to improve the app. We know Google is doing the same kind of stuff, but it’s always important to think about security.

Emu functions much like any other SMS app. The app looks fine, but I wish the it were more customizable. But, for the functionality it comes with, I could be willing to deal with how it looks. I like the idea of having a smart SMS app. I just need to learn myself and teach my contacts the phrases, dates and times Emu responds to, so I can get the most out of the service.. I’ve had the app installed for few days and haven’t had the opportunity to use many of the new smart features much. I guess I just text about boring stuff.

Lastly, and this is just a small beef I ran into with the app, but I couldn’t figure out how to select and copy text from an SMS conversation. A friend sent me an address that was missing a few spaces, so Emu wasn’t able to detect that it was an address. I tried to copy the text so that I could paste it in Maps. However, I just kept enabling Emu’s push to talk feature, which was pretty annoying. I ended up opening the stock Android SMS app to finish up my business.

With that said, what do you think of Emu? Do you like the idea of having a smart SMS app? Are you installing it now to give it a shot? I’d be surprised if Google didn’t start implementing some of these features with the new integrated SMS coming with Hangouts in the near future. I think the smart features of Emu are relevant and useful. I think the creators of Emu are really on to something, and hopefully they can continue to build on what they have and create a real “smart” hub out of SMS. Emu Messenger and all its new features are available now in the Google Play Store.

View in Google Play