Google buys mobile messaging app Emu

|By:, SA News Editor

Google (GOOG +0.4%) has acquired Emu, a mobile messaging/SMS app that tries to stand out by integrating a virtual assistant service.

With the help of A.I., Emu analyzes conversations to help schedule appointments, make reservations, pull up movie info, and share one's location, among other things (shades of Google Now). CEO Gummi Hafsteinsson: "I felt that you kind of had to engage [Apple's] Siri all the time, and I wanted to create an assistant that was more in the background and proactive."

Mobile messaging has been seen as a weak spot for Google, given the huge user bases claimed by 3rd-party platforms such as WhatsApp (500M+ active users), Line, WeChat, iMessage, BBM, and Facebook Messenger. Google was rumored to have shown interest in WhatsApp before Facebook struck a $19B deal to acquire it, but has denied making a bid.

Though Google bundles its Hangouts app (integrated Gchat, SMS, and video calls) with Android phones, reviews have been mixed. Emu's technology appears a logical fit for future Hangouts releases.