In the crowded world of messaging apps, Google has released Allo, a new player that promises to learn how you like to reply while also enlisting the help of Google Assistant to aid in your conversations. The development of the app was led by the company’s Kirkland, Wash.-based engineering team.
The new app for Android and iOS (no go on tablets or desktop) enters an arena where Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s Messenger already compete with Google’s Hangouts as well as Slack and WhatsApp and whatever else.
Google is promoting four areas that it hopes will make Allo an attractive option:
- Smart Reply: Google will suggest responses to help you answer a message quickly. The technology learns over time, and adjusts to preferred phrases. Photos get similar treatment, as Google knows that a cute puppy demands a certain range of replies, from calling out the breed to a simple emoji expressing cuteness.
- Creative expression: Much like the new iMessage, the range of drawing and stickering capabilities has increased. Scribble on photos or use one of the stickers from the specially selected 25 artists that Google enlisted. Users can also manipulate text by dragging on the send button to change its size.
- Google Assistant: By typing @google, the preview addition of this feature becomes accessible in Allo. Rather than launch a separate window to search for specific information, the assistant works directly in the chat. It can join in on a group discussion or be used one on one to help find restaurants or answer trivia or track down sports scores, etc.
- Privacy: Google says it takes privacy and security seriously at Allo and boasts that the option of chatting in Incognito mode offers end-to-end encryption. A conversation in Incognito mode can also be set to expire after a set amount of time from each users’ phone. The Verge reports that, despite earlier promises from Google, messages sent outside this mode will still be stored on Google servers, allowing the Assistant to to be able to improve its smart replies.
Earlier this summer, Google released Duo out of its Kirkland offices as well. In taking on Skype and Facetime, the video-calling app does have one cool feature, called Knock Knock, in which users can actually see who is calling and what they’re doing before deciding to pick up.