Google, part of Alphabet
Inc , is building a new mobile messaging application to better compete with rival services such as those offered by Facebook Inc , The Wall Street Journal reported.
The new service would tap into Google's artificial intelligence know-how, integrating chatbots, or software programs that answer questions, inside a messaging app, the Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The new app will enable users to text friends or a chatbot, which will search the Web and other sources for information to answer a question, similar to how Google search works.
It is unclear when the service will be launched, or what it will be named, the report said, though it adds that Google veteran Nick Fox has been leading a team working on the new service for at least a year.
In October, Mr. Fox offered to buy 200 Labs Inc., a small startup that builds chatbots, but the firm declined the offer, according to two people familiar with the situation.
200 Labs developed a marketplace and rating service for chatbots on Telegram, a messaging app that offers hundreds of chatbots, devoted to subjects such as the weather, image search, news and dating. 200 Labs is working on technology that will choose the best chatbot to respond to a request.
Google is pursuing a similar goal with its messaging service, the people familiar with the plan said
Google declined Reuter's request to comment on the WSJ report.
Popular messaging apps include Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger services, and Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat, while Google has a service called Hangouts.
Written with inputs from Reuters