Google, at the I/O Developer Conference in May, announced its next generation messaging and video calling mobile apps, namely Allo and Duo. The company released the simplistic mobile video client Duo a month ago, and now proving the speculations right, has dropped the ‘Allo’ messaging app for Android and iOS users simultaneously.
But, the messaging market is already crowded with an — should I say behemoth1? — enormous number of applications offering a couple different functionalities to make themselves stand apart. We already have a pretty good set of options in the form of WhatApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and even WeChat to choose from.
With the launch of another messaging client in the present scenrio, we expect it to do something unique and bring something exceptionally new to the table. And Allo, which has adapted from past experiences and failed attempts, is a reboot which brings with it the ‘smarts’ which Google is known for around the world. This is the first messaging application to embed the AI-powered capabilities of a smart virtual assistant, specifically Google Assistant, in this case.
Now the only question left unanswered is — why should we go out on a limb to download another messaging client? Didn’t we already have Hangouts, and that had video calling too?
Well, you’re right to say that we already had the Google Talk upgrade ‘Hangout’, and it provided a fulfiling messaging and video experience as well. But, Google doesn’t seem to think so, and is of the opinion that Hangouts is more sort of a productivity and enterprise service while Duo and Allo are the company’s consumer-focused products. And that is also reason behind their simplicity and their fun/quirky experience.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s not waste anymore time trying to justify the launch of Allo and take a peek at the exemplary features of the new messaging application — that pits it against the latest iMessage upgrade.
Allo is one smart application, but it has included a fun way of saying things out loud or whisper them right into the conversation. Allo allows you to press and hold the send button, and then scroll upwards and downwards to make the text bigger and smaller. You no longer need to write in ‘ALL CAPS’ to show your anger towards a person, you can just scroll up and send a big sized text message(with emojis, of course!)
Allo is no ordinary messaging app and comes baked-in with Google’s complex machine learning algorithms that are constantly running in the background to help you respond quickly and keep your conversation going.
This feature called ‘Smart Reply’ show reply suggestions based on a text or photo response received by you. You can just tap the ‘quick response’ bubble that seems apt and keep the conversation alive without having to spend excessive time mulling over it. This feature, powered by AI, keeps tabs on your replies and learns, adjusts according to your style with each conversation.
Google Assistant at your fingertips
In Allo, Smart Reply isn’t the only feature to help you keep your conversation fresh and alive. You’re also getting in tow a preview version of Google’s upcoming ‘even smarter’ version of Google Now, called Assistant. The Google Assistant was also announced alongside the new application at the I/O conference few months back.
With the preview build of Assistant in Allo, you can easily have a one-to-one conversation with Google and ask it to help you with search results, scheduling, replies and getting things done right inside the app. And the Assistant is not only available in an exclusive chat window, but also inside each and every sonversation you’re having with your friend. You can just type @google to invoke the assistant in the conversation and ask it to surface results to your heart’s content.
This is one feature that was received by a charming and loud applause at the keynote event of the I/O Developer Conference. And why wouldn’t it!? It is sheer awesomeness packed inside a ‘messaging’ app. It will initially be available in English, with more languages coming soon. Also, the Assistant will soon be making its way into more Google products around your home, including the recently announced Amazon Echo competitor ‘Google Home’
Sketching, Emojis and Freaky Stickers
Google is completely aware of the fact that we live in 2016, and not in late 2000’s, so it has inherently included a bunch of photo editing features into the application — also included in every other messaging, or social networking app. You can easily draw and scribble over your photos before sending them over to your beloved friends.
But, that’s not the highlight of the fun and creative side of the messaging application. Like Apple has partnered with the likes of Disney and Nintendo to introduce stickers into their apps, Google has taken a completely different route. It is working with independent artists to create bizzare, and freaky stickers in Allo.
There are currently over 25 sticker packs in Allo, featuring a moody and alcoholic sloth, alongside a grumpy show-off bull, called Julio. The style of these stickers is more reminiscent to the currently popular and edgier cartoons on Comedy Central.
Now, if you’re one of those users who’ve been in constant awe over the privacy concerns of the messaging application, since the beginning of this piece, then we wanna tell you that there’s nothing to worry. This is the next eveved stage of the technology, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, and you need to accept it.
But, still Google has also baked in features for those who still fear their data, ending up in the wrong hands. All chats in Allo are encrypted using industry standard technologies like Transport Layer Security (TLS). But, the tech giant has gone a step ahead to include an ‘Incognito Mode’ right in the messaging app. In this section of Allo, not only are all the chats end-to-end encrypeted, but Google has taken the Telegram/Snapchat route and added discreet notifications and message expiration features.
Though Allo is still half-baked and lacks some features prominent in other popular messaging applications, like voice calling, document sharing, and more, but one could see it become a wildly popular cross-platform messaging platform for daily conversation with friends and family. It is one thing that could prove lethal for Apple’s iMessage platform, which has decided not to take its messaging app to Android and other platforms.