In this year’s Google I/O conference, the tech giant promised to unveil their new messaging app by the end of summer. They kept their word and released Google Allo on September 21. Now, after a few weeks of tinkering with this app, we give you a careful look at how it works, what makes it special, what it lacks, and other nitty gritty details.
Find out if it is an app you will be happy to say hello to and keep, or perhaps simply brush off.
What Makes Google Allo Stand Out?
Google Allo has the familiar bells and whistles expected of today’s messaging apps – individual and group chats, image and video sending, emojis, and sticker packs. Pictures received are automatically saved in the gallery and messages are color coded to easily differentiate sent and received communications.
Additionally, it integrates SMS messaging, which makes sure you can still contact your friends even if they don’t use the app. Tired of typing? Hold down on the microphone to record and send a voice message. All of these features are also provided in a clean, minimalist, and intuitive interface.
So, if it has all of these similarities with more established messengers, why switch to Google Allo? What sets it apart in the field?
Automatic Reply that Fits Your Personality and Style
Google makes full use of their highly developed AI programming to let the app figure you out. Do you prefer to say “haha”, “yup”, and “no prob”? Or maybe you are the type to say “lol”, “yes”, and “np”? Whatever the case, Google Allo will understand how you usually respond in conversations, and eventually give you a wide range of auto-reply assistance. This is awesome for keeping conversations flowing, even if you are busy with other tasks or are always on the go.
The auto-reply function merely suggests words, and won’t fully take away your control of the conversation. It is up to you to tap the suggestions in order to use them, or you can ignore them, too. The auto-reply goes the extra mile by not only providing reply suggestions for chats, but also for images received! If it figures out that you use certain smileys or emojis a lot, then expect that they will be suggested for you to use in the future as well.
Smart and Dependable AI Assistant – @google
Another main feature is the AI assistant, which is not only smart, but highly useful too. It helps you figure out certain things within an ongoing conversation, and you can talk directly to it if you have queries. This function integrates familiar features enjoyed by Google Search and Google Now users.
Organizing a dinner with friends but don’t know the address of the restaurant you want to dine at? Simply type “@google” and then ask your question (what is the address of X restaurant?). The app will then pull the information you need from the humongous Google database in mere seconds. Answers to your question will be displayed in the chat and whoever you are talking to can see the results as well. No more copy-pasting of information from other places to the app; figure things out without leaving Google Allo’s interface!
If you are currently not talking to anybody but want to know something, you can still take advantage of Google’s extensive repository of information without opening Chrome or Google Now to search. Just talk directly to the AI assistant and ask it any question, may that be about celebrity news, traffic updates, sports reports, or even any upcoming flights. The best part, you can instruct the Assistant to provide you regular updates about any interesting subject matter!
Incognito Messaging for Improved Privacy
Chrome users are familiar with the Incognito mode. The same technology is carried over to Google Allo, providing everyone end-to-end message encryption. This is not to say that regular messaging via the app is unsafe. Security layers meeting industry standards are employed. With Incognito mode, message encryption is taken a step further. Plus, you will enjoy more discreet notifications and messages can be set to auto-destruct at a certain time.
Google Allo is marketed by its creators as an app that enables users to fully express themselves. They back their claims by giving everyone the ability to resize message texts and emojis in a jiffy. Enlarge to come across more pumped up; reduce to be more conspiratorial or intimate. Making the sentences and smileys appear big or small is just a matter of pressing down on the send button, and swiping up or down the bar that appears.
Want to send a photo but you feel like it could use some oomph? Why not doodle on it to get your point across? No need to exit the messaging app and go to a photo editing app. You can doodle on any picture right there, then press send!
To help really convey your message, tons of wonderful stickers are also available. They come in varying themes and will fit numerous occasions.
What Could Be Improved?
As it is a recent launch, Google Allo still has a few kinks to work out.
The AI Assistant is a great feature with plenty of potential, but it is a work in progress. It will make mistakes from time to time. What’s good, though, is that you can actually give it feedback. Give it a thumbs up or thumbs down to let it know which information or results were useful or useless.
Some users may also find the clunky Google Voice integration a bother. Unlike Google Now, wherein you simply say “Ok Google” and it functions right away, in Allo you need to press the microphone button first to give the AI Assistant voice commands. It does work well once you get it going, but a completely hands-free operation is not yet possible.
It also appears that one cannot send multiple images at once. Sending documents and music files is also currently off limits. Lastly, although sending a voice message is okay, voice calling and video chat are not yet supported.
Google Allo is tied to your phone number, so when you do change your number or lose your phone, you have to set up the app from the beginning on your new mobile device.
What Phones Does It Work On?
Currently, Google Allo is available for smartphones running Android 4.1 and up. It is also compatible with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches running iOS 9.1 and up.
Google Allo isn’t too large an app, only about 80 MB in size. It will ask permission to access your contacts and storage upon installation.
How to Download and Install?
Visit the Google or Apple store to download the app, or you can hop to these links:
Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.fireball&hl=en
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-allo-smart-messaging/id1096801294?mt=8
After installation, you will be asked to input your phone number. Make sure you have an internet connection or SMS service to receive the verification code. Enter the code provided, permit access to your contacts list and storage, and that’s it – you can now start using the app. You can always chat with the AI Assistant if you need help. This will be a great opportunity to see right away what it can do.
Overall, Google Allo does pack a punch and anyone looking to streamline their smartphone usage and communications will find this app an excellent choice. It lets you chat and socialize online, quickly helps you find important information, and assists you in your daily tasks – all in one place!
There are, of course, several areas for improvement and time will tell if Google gets them fixed. As of now, there is plenty to like about Google Allo, but it isn’t powerful enough yet to completely outshine Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, and other big contenders. It doesn’t take long to get used to, however, and the AI Assistant is pretty neat.
Have you used Google’s new messaging app? What do you think of it so far? Or are you giving it the cold shoulder? Weigh in on the comment section below!
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