Original post: At Google I/O 2016, the Mountain View company just announced a brand new messaging app called Allo.
Update: Even though Allo isn’t available for download yet, you can now pre-register for it in the Google Play Store. Just make sure you’re signed in with your Google account, tap the Pre-register button, and that’s it! Follow the Play Store link below to sign up, and you’ll be notified when it’s ready for downloading.
Allo will tap into your contact list, and from the sound of it, it looks like it uses phone numbers, just like WhatsApp and other similar services.
Engineering director Eric Kay took the stage to introduce the three main aspects of Allo, which are self-expression, Google Assistant, and security and privacy.
Starting with self- expression, Google Allo features stickers and emoji, just like most of its competitors. But the app moves away from the norm with a feature called Whisper-Shout, which lets you resize text by dragging up and down on the screen. The idea is to let you express feelings without having to resort to all caps or other artifices. You can also draw on images with a feature called Ink.
Allo takes a page from Inbox’ book, by offering Smart Replies. Say someone invites you to dinner – you are offered two quick lines of text that let you accept or refuse the invite. This also works with pictures!
Moving on to Assistant, Google built the virtual assistant right into Allo. Continuing the dinner example, you can use Allo to reserve a restaurant together with your friend. All the booking happens right in the app.
You can also chat with Google Assistant, which will live in your contact list under the @google handle. You can ask it to find cat pics for you, or to look up information on topics you’re interested in, or even to give you a game to play. And you can bring Google Assistant into your regular chats with your friends.
Finally, Allo features an incognito mode: while in incognito, you get end-to-end encryption, private notifications, and expiring chats. Once you close it, your private chats are gone for ever.
Google also introduced Duo, which was billed as the video companion of Allo. Duo lets you initiate fast one to one video calls. More about it in a separate post.
Allo and Duo are coming later this summer on Android and iOS.
Stay tuned for more on all the development from Google I/O!