At Google’s I/O held in San Francisco the biggest announcement was Google’s soon to be messaging app “Allo”, a direct swipe at Whatsapp. Similar to other messaging apps where you can talk to your friends, the biggest feature is the integration with Google’s Assistant Service, a chat bot which you can call on to do tasks such as sharing media, planning events and even buying things.
The app includes some cool new features such as “whispershout”, where you can change the text size to highlight how “loud” you want your message to be and expressions which are similar to stickers and emojis.
So the biggest question of all is, will it catch on? Will you be saying to your friends “Do you have Allo?” Could you see yourself ditching Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger to use Allo? Only last month, Facebook Messenger’s Mark Zuckerburg opened up the platform to allow for third party developers to build bots for the service and with people already having their address book’s full on Whatsapp, it appears difficult for Google to enter the market. There is nothing that truly stands out about Allo… Except the bot and when it comes to information, Google is KING. From search, to maps, to videos, Google is virtually unchallenged (who uses Bing right?). This could be the unique feature that could help it grab some market share.
When it comes to social, Google has sure had it’s failures. From Google Wave which was shut down soon after launch to Google Plus which is still struggling to gain traction 5 years after launch. I mean how many people have you heard say “Hey man! add me to your Google circles!”. You cannot deny Google the success of one of their social products however and that is Youtube. Over a billion users and still growing. The biggest question is, will this catch on like the original Google search engine, the revolutionary Gmail and the mammoth Youtube? Or will be writing about Allo this time next year saying that they have shut up shop with the usual notice on their website saying “thanks to the community, bla bla bla.”
It doesn’t come without its criticisms though. Already many people are concerned about the amount of information you are giving to what is essentially a robot which is effectively controlled by Google. However just like in the Chrome browser, there is an incognito option. By enabling it, your messages will be private and secure. When deleting an incognito message, its gone. Forever. Motherboard have written an interesting take on privacy and it’s worth reading.
— Motherboard (@motherboard) May 18, 2016
Hold on though. Allo is not quite ready yet. Unveiled today does not however mean it can be downloaded. Get ready for this in the summer.