During Google I/O Event 2016, Google announced Allo messaging app which they launched on 21 Sep., 2016. Allo poses great competition to apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp & many more similar apps. To make a mark in this congested market, Google has integrated a few key features that separate it from the lot.
Let’s begin with the Allo review…
To begin with, Google Allo asks for permission to assess :
- S.M.S. – For reading OTP
- Contacts – To enable you search your contacts for chatting
- Media – To share images, audio video with your contacts.
Once the required permsissions are granted, moving ahead it detects your mobile no. & sends an OTP (Google Verification Code). It reads it automatically if permission is granted else you can enter manually.
Moving ahead, it asks you to set your profile image & user name. For profile image there are options to select image from gallery, file explorer or click a selfie instantly.
Once you are done with the formalities of preparing the app for first use, you land on the Chat List window. You are welcomed by Google Assistant. All your chats with your contacts or the groups will appear here.
- Here you get the option to search through your chats at the top.
- Long pressing a chat opens a menu with additional options like Delete, Notifications & Block.
- At the bottom, you have a icon with message logo which allows you to start a chat.
By clicking message icon at the bottom you can start a new chat with your contacts or create a group for chat with your gang of friends. If you want privacy & security it has Incognito Mode where users can chat privately with end-to-end encryption. You can control how long your messages stick around with expiring chats & additionally there is option to use private notifications to hide your chats from shoulder surfers.
When you press the Menu icon, you can find a few options to optimise/customise Allo. Here you can,
- Edit profile image & user name.
- Block the people you don’t want to chat with.
- Settings options where you can add your Google account & Unregister your phone number apart from other options.
- Get help & send feedback.
Google Assistant integration brings Google search into the app. Users can search hotels, flights, theaters & events all from within the app without having to leave the conversation. It brings in tools like Maps, YouTube & even Translate.
On initiating chat with a contact you get a top bar with contact name & his profile image. Profile image logo doubles up as chat settings menu, that enables you to :
- Check chat details.
- Mute the chat notifications.
- Clear chat history.
- Search the chat conversation.
- Get help & send feedback.
It’s similar for Group Chat, with additional options for :
- Group Details – Add/remove members.
- Add People.
At the bottom is text bar with some icons.
Tapping + opens up a tab with various options for inserting media in chat, like camera clicks/recordings, gallary images, stickers & locate location. To return back to chat tap the keyboard icon.
Default Google Allo emojis are available on the text bar along with the mic – in case you want to dictate messages & rest your fingers.
It also has a wide range of Stickers designed by independent artists & studios from around the world. To add more stickers tap the + icon & you will be lead to Sticker Store. Just select the ones you like & they will appear in adjacent tab once they are installed.
Allo has some unique smart features added like:
Smart Reply – it gives you suggestions of replies while texting. It uses artificial intelligence to read your texting patterns & then pops suggestions accordingly. For example, it gathers information over time whether you are a ‘Hey’ or a ‘Hello’ person & suggests replies on top of the text bar. It also reads the images that are sent on the app & suggests replies to that as well.
Google Assistant – It enables smart search for places, hotels, videos, information & much more, right from the chat. Sometimes it just picks up the search word even if written normally but its recommended to tag google assistant for searching whatever info you want to share/search, while chatting. However you can anytime chat with Google Assistant right from the chat list, if not chatting with any contact.
Whisper Shout – the ability to increase the size of the text right at the moment you want to post it. Just long press send button for slider to pop up.
Ink – it enables to write/doodle on pictures before sending them on Allo.
Google Allo is an instant messaging app that makes conversations easier, more productive & more expressive with features like Smart Reply & Google Assistant integration to make it stand out. It seems to be smooth, easy to use, feature rich app with unique smart functions. Integrated Google search via Google Assistant helps you to search the web without having to leave the chat. Plan anything anytime with your gang without any hassle or delay. Smart reply lets you use any type of keyboard – even those which don’t have prediction feature. No need to download/use any other app for doodling – all thanks to Ink.
- Simple interface.
- Easy to use.
- Google Assistant helps in searching web for information related to everything & anything.
- Smart Reply understans our texting pattern & suggests accordingly – better than any keyboard app prediction feature.
- Ink lets you doodle images right before sharing – no need for any other app.
- Search within message chat.
- No option for making audio/video calls.
- No option to edit message once posted (as in Telegram).
- If device is switched, all previous chat data is lost as its non transferable.
- Google Assistant doesn’t answers any question regarding using Allo or its features.
- Can’t search/add any Allo user by user name (as in QQ). Person has to be in your contact book.