I have to say, I have been chomping at the bit since May about this one.
A little backstory:
Google Hangouts was released to be the ‘ultimate communications app’ and…. it has been struggling. It hasn’t kept up with the other chat services new functions and abilities and with SO MANY (really awesome) features, many users were confused on how it was used and were not utilizing everything. (Did you know you could start a video call right within a hangout conversation? Most didn’t.)
Google has decided to focus more on their business customers when it comes to Hangouts and, while it has not been officially announced, will eventually only provide the app for their Google Apps for Work subscribers. They realized that having one app do everything was too confusing for the average user and thus announced Duo and Allo this past May. (Read here for my Duo review.)
Well, Due came out last month (as the response to video chat apps), and, finally, Allo is here.
Then came Allo
Allo was released this morning (9/21) on Android and iOS and I could easily go into EVERYTHING that it can do, but this article would be incredibly long and the point of this blog is to give you the brief, easy to understand explanation.
Allo was released as a messaging service as a direct response to apps like Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatApp, and all the others like these out there, but it has one thing going for it that those others just don’t: Google.
Why is Allo Different?
When you are having a conversation with someone and start talking about getting a bite to eat Google will automatically add a list of nearby restaurants to the conversation. Want to see a movie? Google will pop up the latest movies and their nearby showtimes. What about trivia? Ask Google a question by putting @google before your text so that it knows you are asking the search assistant and it will do it’s darndest to get you an answer. And, everyone in the chat can see the results, so you no longer have to copy and paste information across services into a chat.
You can also resize your texts (instead of using caps to shout), you can add stickers, emoji’s of course are still there, and, predictive text. Over time it learns what you like to say in response to things. Like if you are more of a ‘haha’ person vs a ‘lol’ person. It also has an incognito mode which encrypts your conversations by default and once deleted, always deleted. (The Google Assistant is also not a part of those conversations, for obvious reasons.)
All this is demonstrated incredibly well on Google’s page, so, if this has you interested, I would go check out the incredibly well-designed app on this equally well-designed website to see it in action and get the download links for Android and iOS (yep, once again, cross-platform!)
And when you do download it, give me a quick, ‘Allo!’
Like my first post, ask me questions! Either in the comments or on Facebook. I will add them to this post.
Edit: Questions and Clarifications:
- Allo currently only works on one device at a time. If you log in on a different device your initial device will deactivate.
- Like iMessage, you will have to deregister your phone number before you register a new one.
- Allo does not send standard SMS when someone else does not have Allo but instead sends them a notification from Google that you sent them a message and to install the app to reply.
- Most reviews are pretty mixed, and for good reason, Google has some more work to do before this will become the SMS replacement they want it to be:
- It is one more messaging app in a sea of messaging apps, and it comes late to the game.
- The features that separate this app from the pack are not quite impressive enough (yet) to draw people away from other apps.
- It will not send standard SMS to non-Allo users.
- It cannot be used on tablets or web-browsers (yet) while almost all the other messaging apps have this already (including Google’s own Hangouts).