Shortwave email app introduces AI-powered summaries

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Last year, some Google executives launched an email app called Shortwave, which aimed to fill the gap left by the search giant’s Inbox app. Now the company has introduced an AI-powered summary feature so you don’t have to read lengthy emails or threads to get the gist.

The feature – powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 – is available for free on all platforms in beta. The company says the digest also works well when translating emails from other languages. Shortwave tested the feature for different types of use cases, ranging from browsing a newsletter to viewing a large number of emails in a short amount of time.

In addition, the company says users can include a summary of a previous message when forwarding an email. Others can read this summary to quickly understand the context of the conversation, even if they don’t use shortwave.

The startup plans to introduce more AI-powered features in the future, including more summary methods and smart compositions. It also wants to introduce a semantic search that will allow users to search for phrases like “What time does my flight leave next Tuesday?”.

“The new capabilities of large language models have opened the door wide to new ways of interacting with your inbox. At Shortwave, we aim to pave the way for an AI-enabled email future, starting with Smart Summaries, which launch in beta today,” it said in a blog post.

Shortwave said free users will have some access to these AI-powered features in the future. However, the company is still evaluating its pricing strategy during the summary feature testing phase.

While Shortwave is free for basic use, it also offers a $9 per month plan for power users and custom plans for teams. Aside from AI-powered features, Shortwave offers better categorization than Gmail, email grouping based on time, teammate listing, pinned emails, and support for emoji and GIF reactions. The app treats emails like items in a to-do list, allowing you to snooze them or mark them as completed.

Generating summaries for different types of media formats is a great use case for large language models. Last month, transcription company Otter launched a bot that automatically summarizes a meeting. Microsoft’s new AI-powered products like Bing and Edge can also summarize pages and documents. There are also other tools that list everything from links to YouTube videos and Slack threads to resumes.

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