Showing off Allo’s ability to change font size (via The Next Web).

Yesterday at Google I/O, the technology giant announced Allo, a new breakthrough in online messaging. This new app is messaging on steroids. Not only does it include new ways to express yourself, such as making font sizes bigger or smaller for “whispering” or “yelling,” but includes some innovative smart features.

The Basics

Allo is sort of an update to Hangouts, if you will. It looks similar in many ways, and has much of the same features. It’s got all that you would expect out of a basic messaging platform, and more.

Going Smart

It’s main attractions are the new smart features. The app took a trick out of Inbox’s playbook, adding Smart Reply. Smart Reply is able to detect the context of the conversation and compose several replies that you might want to send. The Smart Reply feature learns your style of language, and adapts to your lingo. In addition, it can also send smart replies for an image. During the demo in the I/O keynote, Google demonstrated how Allo could recognize a picture of a puppy, and compose a smart reply of “Cute puppy!” In addition, the app was also able to detect the exact breed of the dog. In another example, Google showed how it was able to detect 2 different foods in a single photo, and compose smart replies for both of the foods.

But Wait.. There’s More!

Google’s Allo goes beyond Smart Reply. It also integrates the new Google Assistant. Much like Siri, Google Assistant allows you to hold a conversation to accomplish tasks, something you were not able to do in Google Now. Using @Google within the Allo app, you are able to bring up Google Assistant to help you with your needs. Google used an example of how you can make a reservation for a restaurant directly within the chat platform.

The Problem

While the app is a cool concept, there is one major problem with it. There are simply too many messaging apps. Just within Google, we have Hangouts, the new YouTube messaging system, and Google’s new messaging app for groups, called Spaces. Not to mention the countless other popular messaging platforms, such as Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, and plain SMS. If Google wants Allo to succeed, they’ll need to kill off their other messaging platforms, including Hangouts, and continue to add features to pose a serious threat to Messenger and its other rivals. Unfortunately, Google is making things difficult for its own app after announcing that Hangouts will continue as a standalone app along side Allo. The new app is very niche as it is – it seems like something only nerds would even care to try. As for the rest of the world, good luck pulling them away from the other main messaging platforms.

To Make Things More Complicated..

To make things even more convoluted, Google also introduced Duo, a new app for video chat. Duo basically looks like an improved version of Google video calling. It seems like the great replacement to Hangouts, but once again, Google is keeping all 3 apps.


While Google introduced 2 new apps today to act as a better version of Hangouts, it’s just not practical for real world usage. It’s cool for people to try, but I don’t see enough people joining the platform for it to take off. To make matters worse, Hangouts lives on. What do you think? Will Allo and Duo be a success? Let us know below!


This article is part of our Google I/O ’16 coverage, to see more articles in this series, check here.

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Kevin Nether