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The OnePlus 7 Pro's Messages app will organize your texts using on-device AI

While Google is working to deliver animated stickers and typing prompts in its Android Messages app, OnePlus is beefing up its own messaging app in a different way: with a healthy dose of AI-powered organization.

On the 7 Pro and some older handsets, OnePlus’s stock Messages app will soon be able to sort messages automatically based on content. No longer will your messages merely populate your phone in chronological order, cluttered with bill reminders, payment notifications, and one-time passwords. Texts from businesses will clearly be separate from the ones your friends send.

It’s similar to how Google’s Gmail works, and very much a why-didn’t-someone-think-of-this-sooner feature you’d normally expect from Google or another tech juggernaut. Instead, OnePlus has partnered with an AI company named Gupshup to deliver this upgrade, and Gupshup’s CEO says it’s been a long time coming. “When you think about the enterprise messaging experience today, it essentially hasn’t changed for 20 years,” said Beerud Sheth, Gupshup’s CEO. “The messaging app where the consumers view those messages has been the same for a long time now.”

Cutting down on the clutter

Instead of a simple chronological list of your conversations, OnePlus Messages will feature three folders at the top of the screen: Promotional, Transactional, and OTP (one-time passwords). As messages come in, they’ll be sorted appropriately, just like Gmail’s Primary, Social, and Promotions tabs. That means messages from your bank and credit card company will land in Transactional, 2FA codes will end up in OTP, and deals and sales from stores will go straight to Promotional.

oneplus messages OnePlus

Your OnePlus Messages app will look a bit different after an upcoming update. At the top will be three new folders that populate as messages arrive.

Here’s how it works: When a message comes in, the Ai engine scans It for certain keywords and structure and assigns it a category. Personal messages will be ignored and reside on the main screen like usual, but text from businesses will be sorted into the appropriate folder. Sheth estimated that 50-60 percent of incoming messages will be sorted under the new system.

As the AI engine categorizes messages, it also extracts key information, such as flight numbers and 2FA codes, and highlights the info in a Google Now-style card view. You can easily see and copy the relevant information without needing to open the entire message. Sheth said the AI engine is able to discern marketing language from your friends’ chatter, even when businesses try to sound conversational. He also hopes to work with businesses to generate unique looks for the cards.

The new features won’t be optional, and folders can’t be customized or deleted, though as always you can opt for a different Android messaging app. But if you’re the kind of person who fanatically deletes unwanted messages, you’ll want to give it a try.

Privacy takes precedence

I know what you’re thinking: The last thing you want is for someone to be able to read your texts. Sheth stressed numerous times that the AI software works entirely on the device, and neither OnePlus nor Gupshup will see or store any messages. Privacy was paramount in developing the system, Sheth said, which is part of the reason why the model is limited to so-called enterprise messages.

oneplus 7 pro back Christopher Hebert/IDG

Gupshup will be able to update the AI inside the Messages app separate from OnePlus’s regular updates.

While the AI software runs on the phone, however, there isn’t a machine learning aspect to it. Rather, Sheth said the intelligence will be tweaked behind the scenes and pushed to phones via background updates separate from OnePlus app and system updates.

Sheth didn’t divulge how often Gupshup would be updating its AI or how soon new categories and customizations could arrive, but he did give a peek into how it’ll improve. Along with a team of engineers, Gupshup is working with a group of paid users who have agreed to share their inboxes and sample messages to help train the AI.

Gupshup isn’t sure whether the public or the AI is ready to expand to personal or MMS messages. He said that it could expand to other “high-frequency use cases,” but it would take far greater training models. For now, Sheth merely wants to clear out the junk so your message list is cleaner.

“Your messaging app now is just a list of text messages,” he said. “Now it will appear as a list of cards for each of the things that you’re doing, and it makes it much easier and convenient to use.”

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