Google’s Hangouts Chat gets chatbot boost with Dialog flow

Dialog flow should make it easier for developers to create natural language bots for Google’s team collaboration platform.

Google is looking to make it easier to build chatbots for Hangouts Chat, thanks to an integration with its Dialog flow conversational AI platform.

Google launched Hangouts Chat early last year, a chat-based collaboration tool that replaces the Hangouts app for G Suite customers, of which there are now more than 5 million, according to Google’s latest stats.

As announced last week, developers can now build chatbots for Hangouts Chat using Dialog flow – Google’s machine learning-based development suite that enables the creation of natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) apps that mimic human interactions.

Dialog flow is used to create bots for Google Assistant with a simple interface to add training phrases and responses; a range of companies has created chatbots for internal and external use, including retailer Uniqlo and real estate management firm JLL. The latter recently unveiled its JiLL digital assistant based on Dialog flow to help workers schedule meetings and find desk space.

As with Slack, Microsoft Teams and others, chatbots are a popular way to ask questions and retrieve information from third-party tools without switching between applications. Google has provided an API for developers to integrate with Hangouts Chat since its launch, with Salesforce, Trello, and Jira among those available.

By bringing Dialog flow to Hangouts Chat, Google wants to simplify the process of creating natural language bots users can interact with.

“With Dialog flow, you can create a natural-sounding conversational UI with just a few clicks,” said Jon Harmer, product manager, Google Cloud, in a blog post. “Because Dialog flow includes built-in Natural Language Understanding (NLU), your bot can quickly understand and respond to user messages.”