Google Allo is now official. But this isn’t the big story today. The story that is worth reading and even bigger than the release news is its smart features that are designed to counter WhatsApp.
As showcased at Google’s I/O conference back in May, Allo is the latest entrant in the world of instant messaging. It gives you a way to “say more and do more” right using simple conversations. Moreover, it has the same artificial intelligence (AI) that was initially a part of some digital assistants like Siri and Cortana.
“Google Allo can help you make plans, find information, and express yourself more easily in chat. And the more you use it, more it improves over time,” describes Amit Fulay, group product manager at Google, in a blog post.
Unlike the original versions of Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Yahoo Messenger, the Google Allo app provides you an easy installation process. It doesn’t ask about your email address and works just after you enter your phone number and then verify it using an OTP. This makes the experience similar to IMs including WhatsApp and WeChat. You can, however, even integrate your Gmail account to expand your contact list.
AI efforts to deliver smarter experience
One of the crucial features that separates Google Allo from WhatsApp is the Google Assistant integration. This brings some fresh AI efforts to the messaging world. The Assistant’s presence allows you to talk directly with Google — ask questions about weather, nearby places and latest news. You can additionally have some fun with Assistant by watching an interesting video or playing a game with friends in a group chat.
Also, there is Smart Reply functionality. This was initially introduced in Inbox by Gmail.
Smart Reply provides you suggestions on the basis of messages and photos you receive on the app. For instance, if you receive an image of a kid, you might see suggestions like “aww cute!” This helps you quickly respond to new messages.
It’s worth noting that suggestions are available not just when you’re chatting with your friends but also at the time when Google Assistant talks to you. You would receive suggestions like “Events near me” and “I’m bored”.
Apart from the AI features, Google Allo has Incognito mode as the next great thing. This gives you end-to-end encryption — just like WhatsApp -and some additional privacy inputs like discreet notifications and message expiration. Google claims that it has deployed industry standard technologies including Transport Layer Security (TLS) to make your messages private and secure.
Having said that, messages outside an incognito chat are stored on Google servers to intelligently serve you the content that you like the most. This is the catch to enhance features like Assistant and Smart Reply.
The Allo app also comes with some basic messaging features that are quite common nowadays. These includes photo sharing, emoji support and sticker packs.
Android and iOS support
You can download Google Allo on your Android or iOS device today. While India is one of the initial targets for Google, the app will be available all across the globe in the coming days. Its web version would also be announced over time to make things difficult of Facebook’s WhatsApp.