9 Oct 2016

Google Allo

Allo is an instant messaging mobile app developed by Google that includes a virtual assistant and provides a "smart reply" function that allows users to reply without typing.It was announced at Google I/O on May 18, 2016 and launched on September 21, 2016. The app is available on Android and

Allo includes a few capabilities that make using it feel notably different than sending texts through your phone’s default SMS service. For one, it includes the company’s new Google Assistant, which surfaces answers to questions and makes suggestions directly within your chat window. Allo can intelligently suggest responses to text and photo messages through a feature called Smart Reply. As other messangers like LINE and Facebook Messenger, Google’s new messaging app offers an array of stickers to choose from. Google initially unveiled Allo during its developer conference in May; today it launches for iPhone and Android users.

The Google Assistant can be summoned within a conversation by typing the tag “@google” before entering text. Typing something like, “@google Where should I go for brunch?,” when texting a friend could prompt Google to pull up a list of restaurants near you. This saves some time since you don’t have to leave your chat thread, open another app like Yelp to find a restaurant, and then return to your messaging app. This generally works very well when you’re looking up restaurants and movie times. Google will even in some cases ask what your preferences are so it can offer better suggestions in the future. For example, when I asked the Google Assistant what I should eat, it asked what types of cuisine I like. But I found that if I needed something really specific, like a bus schedule, I was better off using another app or looking it up through a browser like Chrome or Safari.
In addition to calling up Google Assistant in chats, you can also just chat with it one-on-one. This is essentially a way to interact with Google in a conversational way reminiscent of Ask Jeeves rather than typing out rigid search queries. What’s nice about using Google Assistant in Allo is that it’s not just a search engine packaged in a different way. You can ask what’s next on your calendar, convert pounds to ounces, and search for the answer to a question all in one place. The company also had some fun with Google Assistant and trained it to play a few games, such as one in which it uses a string of emoji characters to get you to guess a movie title. It’s surprisingly addictive.

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