What Makes Google's Allo a Smarter Approach to Messaging

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-09-23
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    What Makes Google's Allo a Smarter Approach to Messaging
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    What Makes Google's Allo a Smarter Approach to Messaging

    Google has built artificial intelligence into its new Allo "smart messaging" app to deliver a better chatting experience. Here's why it could challenge entrenched competitors such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
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    Allo Displays the Familiar Google Bare Bones Design
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    Allo Displays the Familiar Google Bare Bones Design

    Allo has Google's typical sparse application design, with a standard chat timeline taking up a large chunk of the screen's real estate. At the bottom, users click on the "Say something" area, where they can choose to type out text, dictate a response or toss in some emojis. The design is intuitive.
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    Smart Reply Reduces Typing Time
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    Smart Reply Reduces Typing Time

    Allo comes with a Smart Reply function that's designed to limit the amount of time users are typing content. The feature automatically analyzes what's being discussed in the conversation and can suggest quick responses. The app also can suggest photos or emojis that relate to what's being said in the conversation. Smart Reply is Allo's response to suggestions users find in other messaging apps.
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    Google Allo Is Always Learning
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    Google Allo Is Always Learning

    Machine learning is a key component in Google Allo. The app continually analyzes what users are saying so it can suggest more relevant responses, data points and other information as conversations continue. Google wants Allo to be the "smart" chatting application, and it needs the artificial intelligence gained through machine learning to achieve that goal.
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    Text Bubble Size Is a Form of Expression
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    Text Bubble Size Is a Form of Expression

    In what appears to be a growing trend in the marketplace, Allo has text bubbles that can be modified by size depending on what the user is trying to convey. So, if users are "whispering," Allo allows them to send out small text bubbles, according to Google. Those who want to "shout" can send big text bubbles. It's a gimmick, for sure, but it's one that resonates with chat users.
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    There's Photo Sharing With Doodles
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    There's Photo Sharing With Doodles

    Like other chatting applications, Allo features support for photo sharing. However, the app adds a bit more to the feature with help from doodling. After posting a picture to a chat, users can doodle on it to enhance their message. Photo sharing has become a must-have in the chatting world, and Allo offers that and a bit more.
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    Allo Taps Into a Google Assistant That's a Work in Progress
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    Allo Taps Into a Google Assistant That's a Work in Progress

    Allo supports Google Assistant, a bot of sorts that can deliver relevant information after receiving a query. For instance, users in an Allo conversation can ask Google Assistant for nearby restaurants, get answers to questions, find points of interest or call up YouTube videos for both participants in the conversation to watch. Google was quick to note, though, that Assistant is currently in preview and will be improved as time goes on.
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    End-to-End Encryptions Protects Chats
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    End-to-End Encryptions Protects Chats

    Those who want end-to-end encryption will find it with Allo. When users turn on the app's Incognito mode, all conversations from that point on will feature end-to-end encryption, so not even Google can see what's being said. The mode also supports private notifications and the ability for users to set expiration dates on chats.
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    You Get to Play With Stickers
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    You Get to Play With Stickers

    Like varying sizes of text bubbles, today's chat users expect stickers in their chatting apps. Stickers can be pinned to chat messages to add some more context to the conversation. According to Google, the stickers are designed by independent artists and studios from across the world to add "some fun to the conversation when words aren't enough."
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    Also Serves as a One-on-One Personal Assistant
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    Also Serves as a One-on-One Personal Assistant

    Google Assistant can be used as a personal assistant in Allo. When users aren't chatting with others, they can have a one-on-one "conversation" with Google Assistant. Users can ask Google Assistant for sports scores and weather forecasts, or find out when their airline flight leaves, for example. It will even suggest when to leave for a destination to ensure users don't miss an important event. Anything users find out from Google Assistant can be added to their calendar as reminders or events.
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    What to Know About Allo's Availability
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    What to Know About Allo's Availability

    Google's Allo is available as a free download in Apple's App Store and the Google Play marketplace. The app works with any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and requires iOS 9.1 or later. On the Android side, Allo requires Android 4.1 or newer. Google doesn't say whether any Android-based smartphones or tablets are incompatible with the software, so any device running Android 4.1 or later should work with Allo.
 

Google is hoping to compete in the crowded mobile messaging application market with Allo. The app, which Google released Sept. 20, is available on both Android and iOS. In its listing in the Apple App Store and Google Play, the search giant calls Allo a "smart messaging" app that uses artificial intelligence to deliver a better chatting experience. The app offers a smart reply function that allows users to respond to a text message without ever typing. The app also can analyze what's being said and offer suggestions on what to say next. Plus, Google Assistant is baked into the software, giving users the option to ask for and discover local points of interest or decent spots to eat. At its core, Google Allo is a chatting application that includes familiar features such as emojis, big text bubbles and an incognito mode for secure conversations. But it's also a more intelligent take on messaging—and one that could challenge entrenched competitors such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Read on to learn more about Google's free Allo messaging app.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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