Google’s Allo is here. A few years ago, Google thoroughly dominated messaging market. When people left IMs they did that on Google Talk. But even as the company started to feel the challenge from WhatsApp — and this is 2012 we are talking about — instead of improving Google Talk, the company suddenly killed it and replaced it with Hangouts. The new Hangouts app was an unmitigated disaster. It had a terrible user interface and although it improved in the months and years that followed, it never recovered. WhatsApp became, and continues to be, the top messaging app. Allo is Google’s attempt to get back into the game and it is doing that by thoroughly copying all the great ideas that made WhatsApp a hit. Aaaaaannndd it works!
What I liked the most in Allo is the new Google Assistant.
So far, what the Google Assistant is best at—and therefore the best reason to use Allo—is what Google itself is known for: search. Ask for a nearby plumber, a sports score, the weather forecast or a recipe—and you’ll get reliable results every time. You can ask it to translate phrases in different languages, show your latest emails, look up airfare prices and other common queries. If you’re feeling particularly playful, you can play games with it too.
Assistant does come in handy when the app is open in front of you, and you want to look something up without leaving. And you can still ask it questions verbally.
Talking to the Assistant in Allo is not complicated at all. You type your query, it answers, you type follow-up questions, and it answers those. It’s very, very good at web search; it also knows your upcoming flights from Gmail and your calendar and various other things you’ve told Google. It can tell you what restaurants are nearby and help your narrow down your preferences. If Google Search or Google Now is good at it, you can basically trust that the Google Assistant is good at it, too. Every time the Google Assistant responds, you get little suggested replies underneath it. These “suggestion chips” are shortcuts to manually typing out follow-up questions.
The other thing that appears after every reply from the Assistant are little thumbs-up and thumbs-down emojis. These give feedback to the Assistant itself. If you give it a thumbs-down, you can follow up with an explanation of what the bot got wrong. Google says it will use that feedback to improve the Assistant. You can also “invoke” the Assistant in your actual conversations with friends. By typing “@google,” you’re sending a query and the results will be displayed to everybody in the chat. The Assistant won’t divulge your personal information here.
Yep, you got it right. It has an incognito mode and many other fun stuffs. When you choose to go Incognito, you’ll get end-to-end encryption. Incognito Mode also lets you set an expiration time ranging from 5 seconds to one week that will make your chat will disappear on schedule.
Other fun stuff
Other features include blocking contacts, fun sticker packs and the ability to annotate and doodle on images before you send them. You can also increase or decrease text size to reflect if you’re figuratively shouting or whispering your reply. ( just like apple’s new messages app).
Smart Replies are generic responses that pop up above the keyboard and text field. Though the replies are canned (for example, auto-generated responses to the question, “Are you busy?” include “What’s up?” “Not really, you?” and, “Yes. Why?”), they are somewhat natural-sounding time-savers.
Should you switch to Allo ?
So far, the Google Assistant ended up not feeling particularly helpful. Google says the Assistant is still in preview mode, and that third-party app integration is on the way, as is an eventual desktop version of Allo.
Many of the other messenging apps have their individual advantages over Allo. As an enterprise-minded platform, Hangouts has more collaborative tools, including group video calling. iMessage for iOS 10 has a lot more fun cosmetic features like screen effects and handwriting capabilities. With Facebook Messenger you can use GIFs, request rides and even send money to another user. WhatsApp has more productivity support for sharing documents and PDFs. and it’s open to Windows Phone and BlackBerry users as well. And all these apps have desktop versions too.
First off, it’s cross-platform, which iMessage wholly lacks. Second, Allo’s Incognito Mode, with its end-to-end encryption, is another layer of privacy. But the most compelling feature is Google Assistant. Assistant is a superbot that merges together just about everything chatbots can do. Plus, calling up Assistant during a group chat means all your friends can use it together. Just think of Assistant as that one friend you have that is a little stilted in conversation, but is super helpful and always knows the right answer so far.
So what do you thing about this Google’s new messaging app Google Allo ? Let us know in the comments down below!