Shortwave email client will show AI-powered summaries automatically

Shortwave, an email client built by former Google engineers, is launching new AI-powered features such as instant summaries that will show up atop an email, a writing assistant to echo your writing and extending its AI assistant function to iOS and Android, and multi-select AI actions.

The startup introduced AI-powered summaries last year, but you had to tap a button to generate that summary. Now, with the new instant summary feature, the client shows the gist of an email or a thread in one sentence automatically.

You can tap on that sentence to generate a slightly longer summary and even ask the assistant questions about the thread. This is particularly useful when you are trying to get through multiple emails quickly.

Instant summary feature shows gist of an email on top in a sentence

Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

The company says that for the short instant summaries, it is using open source models and its own GPUs to bring the cost down. The longer summary is generated by GPT-4 Turbo.

Shortwave is also extending its AI-powered Assistant feature, which was launched in September 2023, to its iOS and Android apps. The assistant helps you with writing drafts, searching the web, or answering questions about the thread that is currently active. The Assistant also helps you search through your emails for questions like “When was the last time I talked about XYZ company?”, but it’s a paid feature.

Shortwave mobile client

Image Credits: Shortwave

Shortwave also has an AI multiselect option, which lets you select multiple threads and ask the assistant questions about them. It could be useful for you to first search emails on a particular topic or by a particular person and then ask the assistant questions about those threads.

Image Credits: Shortwave

Gmail has had smart autocomplete features for a while now. Shortwave is introducing its own spin on AI-powered autocomplete that is capable of writing longer sentences. Users can just accept suggestions by pressing the tab — just like Gmail.

Andrew Lee, the company’s co-founder, calls this a “GitHub Copilot for emails.” He told TechCrunch over a call that the feature will learn your writing and replying style to formulate sentences for you.

All these features are rolling out to users starting this week. The instant summary, AI multiselect and mobile assistant are available for all users. However, the AI autocomplete feature will be available to only Pro and Business plan users.

Since last year, the company has revamped its pricing structure. It used to have free, standard ($9 per seat per month) and enterprise plans. Now, it has a $7 per month personal plan, a $24 per month Pro plan and a $24 per month business plan for teams.

Last September, Lee said that the email app had 20,000 monthly active users. While he didn’t share an updated number, he said that the company is focusing more on ramping up business and enterprise plans.

“There is a lot of demand for writing and searching emails with AI, especially with power and business users. That’s why we are moving the AI from the side panel to the main editor. We also want to help people figure out what’s important and what’s not important through AI,” Lee said.

Shortwave is not the only email client riding the AI wave. Both Microsoft and Google have rolled out AI-powered features for Outlook and Gmail. Meanwhile, email apps like Superhuman and Boomerang have also launched AI-powered features to assist users with email writing.

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