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Google’s new smart messaging app, Allo, is rolling out today. Here’s what you need to know about the platform.
Allo is a mobile-only messaging app that capitalizes on Google’s strengths to help it stand out among its plethora of competitors. Chief among those strengths is the truly staggering amount of information that Google knows about you and the world around you, according to Engadget.
This knowledge base shows up in Allo as the Google Assistant, which is a conversational chatbot that provides information based on your and your friends’ chat history. The bot is expected to roll out over several different Google platforms, but it’s making its debut on Allo, CNET reported.
And Google Assistant really is the main feature that sets Allo apart. The smart chatbot provides you with information from across the internet, saving you from having to jump between several apps to look up details about your surrounding world. For example, if you’re planning a dinner date with your sweetheart, you can ask the Google Assistant to show you a list of nearby Italian restaurants.
The bot also knows how to respond to natural language. Using the restaurant example, you can follow up by asking Assistant “what about French?” and it will pull information on local restaurants, and not the French language or culture. This makes it incredibly easy to pull and share information with your contacts without having to leave the Allo app.
Among other features the app has is a Smart Reply feature that allows you to send quick response messages to your friends with a single tap. If your friend sends you a picture of a dog, Allo might suggest a Smart Reply like “aww, cute!” The app self-learns too, so it’ll improve over time and adapt to your particular conversation style. Allo also has a wealth of emojis, stickers and other decorative elements, as well as a private Incognito mode using industry standard encryption, Google wrote in a blog post.
There are a few caveats with Allo, however. Assistant can’t handle all inquiries, and Allo will send you to a web browser if it can’t complete a task. Certain functionalities can only be accessed through private chat, too. You can ask it to perform tasks such as pulling up directions to your saved workplace or dates from your personal calendar. You can even ask it to pull images from your Google Photos account by asking a question such as “show me my pictures of the ocean.”
Some other downfalls of the platform include the lack of integrated video calling. Allo currently also doesn’t have GIF support, and it doesn’t allow you to turn on or off read receipts — all things other chat platforms offer. But its basic functionality, along with the useful and innovative Assistant, might be enough to warrant a switch from your current messaging app.
Allo is currently available as a free download.