Introducing Allo: A cross-platform messaging app with A.I. chops

allo smart reply images

Google’s Allo, a new communications app, has a "smart reply" feature for quickly responding to messages. 

Credit: Google I/O screenshot

Let's be honest, we were all thinking it: Google needs a new messaging app. After all, it only has around three or four, right?

Well, luckily, Google thought so, too. So today it is starting the roll out of its new app, Allo, which includes some special functionality that its other messaging apps don't.

In IT Blogwatch, we channel Pink Floyd and say, "Allo? Is there anybody out there?"

So what makes this new app so special? Harish Jonnalagadda gives us the background:

Google's smart messaging app Allo is finally becoming available to the public...Allo is the first app to integrate Google Assistant, a chatbot that leverages...machine learning and A.I. smarts to provide answers, suggest replies to conversations, retrieve your travel information, and...more. Think of it as an evolution to Google Now...In typical Google fashion the app will roll out over time, so if you aren't seeing it right away keep checking back.

Want to know more about how Allo uses machine learning? Ron Amadeo has the details:

Allo is an instant messaging client with a Google cloud twist...there's a "smart reply" feature, that scans the current chat and generates several pre-typed responses using Google's cloud-powered machine learning...Google says that smart reply will "improve over time and adjust to your style."
...
The other cloud-powered feature is the Google Assistant...Google's new chatbot technology that lets you perform Google queries and see results...inside a chat window. This can be things like asking questions, showing a plane flight, or finding nearby restaurants...doing it inside Allo means you can collaborate with a friend.

What else makes Allo special? Its cross-platform functionality, among other things. Matthew Miller tells us all about it:

The predominant messaging app on iOS is iMessage...Google is a bit more confusing with Messenger, Hangouts, and now Allo. It looks like Allo will be the one to rule them all as it...works well across iOS and Android.
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Your friends and family can interact with you via SMS even if they don't...have Allo...In addition to text messages, Allo supports sending resized text, emojis, photos, and sketches. These functions look similar to the new iOS 10 iMessage app, but remember Allo works across Android and iOS.

What about security? Jason Cross knows all about that:

Allo does not encrypt messages end-to-end by default, as Google’s Assistant can’t use...that web-based machine learning stuff...if it doesn’t know what you’re talking about. If you want to have a private conversation, you can invoke Incognito Mode to enable end-to-end encryption and control how long messages stick around before they expire.

But what is it like to actually use Allo? Kurt Wagner fills us in:

We tested the app...and found it to be relatively useful...the assistant felt more helpful than invasive, though that could easily change when the conversation switches from where to meet for lunch to something more serious and private...One...critique...adding the Google search results to the messaging thread does seem to clutter it up a bit. At times it was tough to tell which messages were sent by a human and which were Google-generated.

Ultimately, what does this mean for users? Scott Hanselman tells us how to reach him:

New chat app from Google called "Allo." So, you can hit me up on Google Voice, Google Messenger, Google Duo, Google Hangouts, Google Allo.
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