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Image via Google I/O livestream.

Google didn’t just announce an Amazon Echo competitor today; it also debuted Skype-like messaging and video chat platforms, called Allo and Duo, respectively.


A chat in Allo
A chat in Allo.

Allo is a mobile-only messaging app with built-in bot support. Like any modern messaging app, you can send text, stickers and photos. But Google uses analytics technology to suggest smart responses — much like Google Inbox — and even composes responses that react to what’s in a photo.

For example, if a user sends a photo of linguini, Allo automatically suggests responses like “Yummy!” or “Yum clams!”

Users can also use “WhisperShout” to change text size before sending, making it easy to send a big “YAY!” without having to engage caps lock.

Allo also supports bots, including the new Google Assistant, so users will be able to engage businesses and apps in a conversational tone to book reservations and even play games.


Duo is a 1-to-1 video messaging app. However, unlike Skype or Facetime, Duo shows you the caller’s face before you pick up.

The feature, called Knock Knock, lets you see what kind of conversation you’re likely getting into. For example, you can easily see if your partner is just calling to chat, or if they’re trying to show a child’s first steps.

Allo and Duo are focused on simplicity. Duo in particular comes without pretty much anything outside of person-to-person calling — there is no conferencing, no video messages, and no desktop platform.

Google will continue to develop Hangouts, which hosts both text and video chats, as a separate service that works across mobile and desktop. However, Duo and Allo will likely be the focus for mobile conversations.

Both apps will be launching this summer on iOS and Android. All you need to sign up is a phone number, so users who don’t want to use a Google account can still use the service.

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