An instant messenger with a personal assistant and smart reply.
Pros & Cons:
An instant messenger developed and supported by Google with a personal assistant, smart reply, incognito chat and more.
Allo is Google's latest answer to what an instant messenger should be. It works similarly to WhatsApp and many other popular IM apps, but with some innovative features like Google Assistant and Smart Reply kicked in.
To start using this app, you need to log in with your phone number and verify it with a returned SMS passcode. It doesn't need a username and password, nor any other means of identification such as your Google account to use Allo.
Here's a review of what Allo is offering.
In a conversation, you can get help with Google Assistant from within the app. Type @google to pull in the Assistant who answers your queries directly in a conversational thread. In this way, you no longer need to go out from the app to search for an answer.
Google Assistant also works as a chatbot and it's one of your Allo contacts. Tap it and you can have a one-to-one chat or say anything. If you ask 'send me news daily', it offers some top stories and checks if you like to get this every day and at what time. To this effect, you can actually get some news headlines from Allo.
If you feel bored, type 'play game' and the Assistant offers some Chat, Quiz, Doodle or Classic games for you to choose and play with the bot. The Assistant also offers translations, reminders, weather forecasts, travel info, etc. Type ‘what can you do’ to check out more.
Borrowing a smart feature from Google's Inbox app, Allo suggests a text or emoji reply to the last text message or even an image, using Google's machine learning technology. It performs better as you use more.
If a suggested reply is good enough, tap it to respond to your buddies. This is useful especially when you're on the move and saves your time to repeat typing.
For the security and privacy conscious, Allo allows you to apply to a contact with incognito chats without leaving traces behind, a feature quite similar to opening an incognito window in Chrome for secured browsing.
Incognito chats are kept secret using end-to-end encryption. After reading, chat content is deleted automatically after an hour by default, or a time duration you set.
Google Assistant and Smart Reply are not supported in incognito mode.
Starting a group chat is straightforward like the way you do with many other IM apps.
Unlike WhatsApp which relies on a group admin to add and remove members, Allo acts more like Facebook Messenger in group chats where anyone in a group is able to add and remove members from the group.
Shout or Whisper
In Facebook Messenger, you can enlarge an emoji icon by pressing and holding it in a reply to a message. Allo works further and allows you to not only enlarge or reduce an emoji icon, but also text size to shout or whisper.
You can do this by sliding up or down the send button after adding a message.
Doodles, Stickers and More
What's more, Allo has some bells and whistles, like adding text or doodles to an image before sharing it. You can also add stickers, which Google says they were designed by artists and studios from around the world. So far, WhatsApp does not support stickers while many other IM apps like LINE and WeChat do.
Allo is now available for Android and iOS devices, but it has yet to support a web or desktop interface as of this writing.
Google Allo was reviewed by Jojo Yee on