Google Allo launches (24/09/2016) and this is no ordinary chat interface. Google Allo, available for free as a download from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, will delight Android smartphone and Apple iPhone owners.
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In a nutshell, Google Allo lets you say more, do more and express yourself with doodles, stickers and a massive selection of emoji. This current version of Google Allo also integrates the Google Assistant preview edition, but more on this later.
The first gem that Google Allo reveals is the possibility to respond without typing, with Google’s Smart Reply, offering single tap text suggestions. The choice of text suggestions that appear, just above the message typing box, allows you to respond with your own personality and lead the conversation in different directions.
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The more you use Smart Reply the more accurate the suggestions become, as Smart Reply uses artificial learning to build up a catalog of dialogue that you choose most often.
When you do choose to type text, you can adjust the size of the text by dragging a finger up or down, starting from the send arrow icon. This makes it even easier to shout or whisper your message.
The chat interface of Google Allo lets you do far more than just share text. By pressing the plus symbol you can share a variety of content. You can click on the camera icon to capture an image, selfie or video using the phone’s camera, right from within the chat window.
The resulting image, or a selected existing photo from your photo gallery, can be doodled over, using your finger, in a choice of colours. The plus symbol also allows you to share your location with a Google Maps snippet or use a Google Allo Sticker.
Google Allo Stickers have been designed by independent artists and studios, from across the globe. Stickers may have text such as ‘leave me alone’ or add a little fun with Stickers from Drama Llama to Food Part.
What makes Google Allo truly revolutionary is the integration of the Google Assistant preview edition. The Google Assistant allows you to get help from Google, without leaving the ongoing conversation.
To seek answers or information, add @Google at the start of the message and the assistant is ready to use. Adding @Google is no effort because as soon as you type @, @Google is suggested above the text window.
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As an example, typing ‘@Google where shall we eat tonight?’ will result in Google Card appearing in the chat window of both parties. The Google Card will show restaurants nearby, along with icons for calling to make a booking, getting directions or seeing the location in Street View.
If you want to use the Google Assistant when not talking to another party, then you can have a one-on-one chat with the Google Assistant. By doing this you can get sports scores, find out how far away you are from the nearest airport or find out when you flight leaves.
The Google Assistant uses artificial learning so the more you use the assistant the more useful it gets. For example, if you ask about resturants, the Google Assistant will ask you questions about what type of cuisine you like to eat. It will then use this information to give you better recommendations on future use.
When chat needs to remain private it is possible to send a message with end-to-end encryption. These chat session expire after a chosen amount of time so that they no longer show in the chat history.
Incognito chat also uses private notifications to keep chats more discreet.
Final thoughts: Before reading this news story you may have thought ‘who needs another chat interface?’ or ‘what could be better than Facebook Messenger?’. However, if you give Google Allo a go, you will be absolutely hooked and release that this is the future of messaging.
Written by: Michael Brown