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September 21, 2016

Allo – is it the app you’re looking for?

By Ellie Burns

Google has released Allo, its new messaging app featuring the new Google Assistant.

Google has released its much anticipated Allo chat app in a bid to compete against heavyweights such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

As a messaging app, it does the expected things and differs little to competitors in terms of basic functionality – it sends messages, pictures and allows for group chats.

However, Google is trying to differentiate from competing messaging apps by billing Allo as the smarter product, rolling out the new Google Assistant which leverages Google’s machine-learning capabilities. Showcasing one of the smart features, Google said in a blog announcing the new app:

“With Smart Reply, you can respond to messages with just a tap, so you can send a quick “yup” in response to a friend asking “Are you on your way?” Smart Reply will also suggest responses for photos. If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like “aww cute!” And whether you’re a “haha” or “:-)” kind of person, Smart Reply will improve over time and adjust to your style.”

Google Allo messaging appGoogle is really pushing the mantra that pauses in conversations will be silenced with the new Assistant, allowing users to ‘get things done directly in your chats.’ Users can chat one-to-one with the Assistant, or access the smart feature by typing ‘@google’ in a group chat. According to Google, users will be able to ‘grab an address, share your favourite YouTube video, or pick a dinner spot’ in-message via the Assistant.

Like other smart assistants on the market, users will have the ability to check weather, flights, road traffic, movie times and so on. With plans to roll out the Assistant to other Google products in the coming months, Google is positioning the Assistant as ‘the next chapter in a journey Google has been on for many years to assist people in their everyday lives.”

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Looking at how Allo actually works in practice, setup is made easy with identification made through a user’s phone number – this can then be linked to a Google ID. However, Google Allo will only be available on phones, both Android and iOS, which could be seen as a downside as other big competitors also have desktop and web versions available to users.

Google has really pushed for a no frills interface, with no contact list needing to be maintained and taken direct from your phone. Bringing the app in line with WhatsApp, Allo will be encrypted using TLS, with added security enabled through an Incognito mode which gives users end-to-end encryption.

Time will tell if Google has made the right move with Allo, seeing as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are so established in the market. However, Google’s search capabilities overshadow everyone in the market which may give its Assistant capabilities beyond competitors.

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