Say 'allo to Allo - Google's WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger rival

Lynsey Barber
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Allo wants to replace other chat apps (Source: Getty)

Google is jumping on the messaging bandwagon with a new cockney sounding app called Allo powered by artificial intelligence.

The mashup between Apple Siri/iMessage/WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger/Snapchat might seem by some as a little late to the party - Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp boast one billion users each and they dominate the world of messaging apps.

Some suggest there can only be one chat app to rule them all as people already overloaded digitally only have so much room in their lives for multiple apps with the same function.

Robin Dunbar, the British anthropologist who calculated that we have 150 friends but only five close friends in our inner circle, told the New York Times: “Having more apps than close friends doesn’t help, as something will have to go."

Read more: WhatsApp and Facebook's handling of personal data to be investigated

However, the potential market is huge - if it can attract people (we all know what happened with Google's efforts in social networking).

Google claims 1.4bn active Android users. That's a lot of potential eyeballs.​ Here's what users will get with the new app from today.


Smart reply

Rather than spending precious minutes typing out standard replies you use all the time (I'm running late, crying emoji), this feature will suggest the appropriate options for you.

Photos stickers and emojis

​Thanks to Snapchat, no-one can message these days with out the addition of some sort of annotation, whether that be a doodle or a sticker. Google isn't the only one to realise this, as Apple added similar features to iMessage in its latest update for iOS 10.


Text encryption is becoming increasingly standard these days after WhatsApp introduced it end-to-end earlier this year. Incognito mode in Allo will encrypt all messages end-to end, as well as add a discreet notification. You'll also be able to set a time limit on messages.

Integration with SMS

For anyone who might not have Allo (probably a few right now), users can still message their mates via good old SMS. They can reply the same way, or they can follow the prompt to download Allo, a nice way of getting people to sign up.

Google Assistant

By far the most interesting part of Allo is the addition of the Siri-like Google Assistant.

If you're making plans with friends it will suggest resturants and movie times, or, if you're planing a holiday, flights and hotels, taking the hassle out of searching for such things.

You can also ask it questions like what's the weather, traffic or latest football scores are.

It works in a similar way to Facebook's Messenger chatbots but it can draw on Google's existing wealth of information, where Facebook relies on other businesses creating the information chatbot.

Read more: The way we message now: Text and email decline with the rise of WhatsApp

The Assistant in Allo is just the first step in its role out into other Google products, and in other languages, however, with the app a good test bed for it.

Earlier this year when it announced the plans, Google boss Sundar Pichai revealed plans to integrate the assistant into a home voice assistant called Google Home, a rival to Amazon Echo which launched just last week in the UK.

Google is due to hold an event next week where it's expected to unveil the Google Home hardware, along with the several new smartphones.

City AM Will you say 'allo to Allo?

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