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Google Allo chat app released for Android and iOS

by Mark Tyson on 21 September 2016, 10:01

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qac63v

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Google has launched a new competitor to the likes of WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE. Google Allo is now available for Android and iOS. As well as the core functionality of messaging among contacts, Allo features a built-in assistant, making it a "smarter messaging app".

Smart Assistance

Why do you need a 'smart assistant' in your messenger app? Google Group Product Manager Amit Fulay writes that such a feature is very useful as "too often we have to hit pause on our conversations - whether it’s to check the status of a flight or look up that new restaurant". Google Allo is thus designed to help you make plans, find information, and express yourself all from the same app. It also learns over time, so should improve the more you use it.

The assistant is summoned in your chat by starting a line with @google. Then you can get the assistant to help with the following:

  • Suggesting nearby restaurants or movies to check out
  • Research travel destinations, flights and hotels
  • Get updates on news, weather, traffic, sports and flights
  • Get funny diversions such as a suggested funny YouTube clip or play games directly within your chat.

General chat features

Google hasn't gone all-in on the assistance and neglected core messaging functionality. Allo is laced with nice features for easier, richer chats and conversations. First of all Smart Reply helps you keep up with a conversation even if you are busy with something else. Smart Reply can suggest responses to various statements, queries and even to pictures it recognises. As you can see in the video, Smart Reply gave three one-tap reply options to a picture of a tortoise on a skateboard; Awesome, I wanna try!, or So brave. A sunset picture example is shown in the image above. Like the @google assistant functionality, Smart Reply is said to improve over time.

All messenger users seem to enjoy sprinkling their messages with photos, emojis and stickers and Google Allo is said to be a "rich canvas" for such activity. A nice UI touch I noticed was the scaling of emoji and text by dragging the 'send' button up and down. There's lots of free sticker packs available from the start (25) if that appeals to you. Last but not least Google Allo has some colour inking functionality which is useful for annotating photos, charts, maps and so on - or just for fun.

For the security conscious Google has included an 'Incognito mode' with messaging featuring end-to-end encryption and additional privacy features like discreet notifications and message expiration.

Sometimes it's hard to get a new chat app to take off but Google has smartly allowed those who don't have Allo to reply via text (SMS) or app preview message. If either of those events occurs Google encourages you to download the dedicated Allo app.

HEXUS Forums :: 13 Comments

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Seriously what was wrong with GoogleTalk or MSN or AIM for that matter. How many chat clients good and bad do they need. Google isn't alone, MS has/had MSN/Lync/Old Skype/New Skype.
Needs more kittens, and a button to make arguments with strangers automatic ;)
Not available in this country yet! It's on the Play store but just registers you to be notified when available. Suggest you change the misleading article.
Seriously what was wrong with GoogleTalk or MSN or AIM for that matter. How many chat clients good and bad do they need. Google isn't alone, MS has/had MSN/Lync/Old Skype/New Skype.

Basically messengers are new front in tech wars, MSN/AIM died because they were PC based.

Everything is bigger on mobile with lots more money to be made, thats why messenger apps are all the rage with Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp etc all duking it out for personal connections. They can also be a trojan horse for pushing your other products/services.

Skype isn't quite as relevant as it once was but it's not dead as many in mobile land like to portray it (still hugely important in business and professional circles), MS is currently building a new universal Skype app to cover all multi-platforms rather than the patchwork of clients it has now.

As to Google, they rightly fear the power messaging has on mobile and the ability it has to undermine their platform so they would rather you stick to Google messaging, you'll notice they didnt even bother to make a PC version of the Allo app.
Not yet released in the UK…not that its particularly exciting as yet another chat app but still.