What is Google Allo?

In a recent event, Google announced the release of Allo, which is a new smart messaging app built to work with both Android and iOS devices. While the app’s primary selling points are the many inbuilt chat features, there are also some productivity and security features that will definitely be of interest to professionals. The new app was launched alongside a video calling application, Duo.

The launch of Allo is significant since it is a cross browser app. The prime messaging app that iOS device owners use is iMessage, making it simple for Apple to concentrate on developing this single application. However, the scenario at Google is a little more confusing, since the company has been concurrently developing Messenger, Hangouts and Allo. However, the smart features included in the Allo app as well as the ability to seamlessly bridge Android and iOS place it in a unique position to rule them all.

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About Allo

Some of the key chat features that are included in the app are the ability to change the sizes of fonts, a large collection of emojis, incognito chat mode, the virtual assistant and a new Smart Reply function. All these have the potential to make it a vital enterprise tool.

One iOS enthusiast said that the major reason he has stuck with an iPhone is so he can easily communicate with his daughters who both own iPhones. Although there are several communication alternatives out there, the majority of iPhone users chat via iMessage. He says that Allo has the potential to be his family’s messaging app of choice.

Data Encryption and Privacy

Since Apple was involved in legal battles with the FBI earlier this year over iPhone encryption, the idea of secure messaging has continued to gain popularity. While secure, encrypted communication is achievable via several third-party apps, Google has decided to integrate it right into Allo.

When using Allo, all messages are passed through Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. However, there is also an ‘incognito mode’ that offers users not just end-to-end encryption, but also additional security features that include message expiration and discreet notifications, according to a blog post by Google.

When chatting in incognito mode, the default setting is for messages to expire one hour after they are sent. However, a user can change this to a range of times as little as five seconds to as long as one week. Messages could also be set never to expire.

Integration of Allo with Google Assistant

The messaging app is also supplied with a new virtual assistant known as Google Assistant, which is currently available as a preview version. You could think of Google Assistant as a chatbot, like what you would find in Slack. To bring up the assistant in a group chat or converse with it, all that a user has to do is type @google.

Users can query the app on a range of things, including traffic, flight status and weather or even tell it to carry out a YouTube search related to a task they are carrying out. The Google Assistant is the “brains” behind the app, with Google indicating that it will be ported to more of its products in future.

The Google Assistant is the front end of a kind of new Google Now, and is the only place where the Google Assistant is currently available. Later this year, Google will release a device similar to the Amazon Echo, known as Home. The device will incorporate a voice-activated version of the Google Assistant.

Among the Assistant’s features is the capability to reach into a user’s Inbox or Gmail account. For example, asking it “Show me email messages from Peter” will pull up the two most recent messages and give you other options like “Emails from yesterday.”

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Smart Reply

Google Allo is marketed as a “smart” messaging app, and contains a range of advanced features which aim to make chatting much more secure and extra fun.

According to the Google blog post on Allo, the new app will make replying to messages quicker and easier by incorporating a Smart Reply feature. What the feature does is recall a user’s typical responses and presents them as applicable and possible replies to a message or photo.

After this, all that the user needs to do is tap the reply that they would like to send. Google says that the Smart Reply feature will adjust to a user’s style to provide improved responses with time.

Conclusion

What makes Allo special is that Google did not set out to make it a better messaging app than all the other options out there per se. Instead, Allo is billed as being “smarter” than other messaging applications. By “smarter,” Google is referring to the incredible amount of artificial intelligence built into the app through the Google Assistant, which allows conversational queries and the Smart reply feature. Now only time will tell if Google’s Allo app will take the lead in the market.

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