One of the announcements that was made by Google at its just concluded I/O event was its new messaging app; Allo pronounced “aloe”. Allo is basically modelled on WhatsApp’s phone number chat model only it has Google Assistant (Artificial Intelligence) built into it and in Google’s own words, “it’s based on your phone number, so you can get in touch with anyone in your phonebook. And with deeply integrated machine learning, Allo has smart features to keep your conversations flowing and help you get things done”. It’s going to be available around July or August for free on iOS and Android.
Using it for messaging is basic which means you sign up with your unique identifier which is your telephone number in this case and then you can see the other stuff that come with most advanced instant messaging apps. So what makes the new app different from Google’s own Hangout app and other messaging apps?
Allo selling points
According to The Verge, When you send a photo, it shows up full-bleed in the screen and you can even doodle on it if you want. Another neat trick: before you hit send, you can drag your finger up or down on the button to enlarge or shrink the text. Google calls it “WhisperShout.”
With Google Assistant, you get to start a conversation based on Google’s huge search database of results which is an advantage it brings to its new home assistant called Google Home which was also announced at the last I/O even. With this tool within a messaging app, you wouldn’t need to go outside the app for basic stuff like reservations and search according to the post. Answers don’t just come out in the regular search format fro example when you engage in a conversation with @google, Google assistant goes the extra length of making a conversation with you until it returns your desired result. Microsoft recently announced that it was now limiting all Cortana searches to its own Bing and Edge services to make search results for efficient from start to finish. More interestingly is when you make a conversation with @google, Allo puts some suggested replies at the bottom. They’re called “suggestion chips” and they’re powered by a massive and massively smart machine learning engine. ” Allo has Smart Reply built in (similar to Inbox), so you can respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and will show suggestions that are in your style. For example, it will learn whether you’re more of a “haha” vs. “lol” kind of person. The more you use Allo the more “you” the suggestions will become.” This all intelligent app is limited though because of the space it is confined to which is Google. Other non Goolge based data may not be available to you for now.
On the encryption side, Google is embedding an incognito mode chat feature which is similar to what is obtainable on the Chrome browser. Like WhatsApp’s, this is an end-to-end encryption which mean not even Google would be able to decrypt your messages.
With the amount of information and features at your disposal, it’s ok for anyone to be concerned about how much information they can trust Allo with. Well a good place to start would be to enable incognito chatting. They have also promised to make the incognito feature even better.
Just before I stop for this topic, Google also announced another app called Duo which is a video calling app. The app shows you a live video preview of the caller before you answer the call.
“Duo calls are in crisp HD video (up to 720p) and audio. We’ve optimized Duo to work well even on spotty networks, so if bandwidth is limited it gracefully adjusts quality so you’re still able to connect. We also seamlessly transition calls between cellular and Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to worry about what network you’re on. Finally, we built Duo with privacy and security in mind and all calls on Duo are end-to-end encrypted.”
I am not sure how this won’t probably diminish the use of Hangouts eventually but seeing that Allo, Duo, Project Fi and Hangout all come under Google’s new communications division, management of these services independently maybe brorng with it some headache, the future of Hangout may be in doubt.
Two or three months is not too long to wait and see how they’ll all fare.