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Allo: chat with a big helping of Google search
Inclusion of 'Google Assistant' creates a differentiated messaging experience.
During the Google I/O developer event earlier this summer, the company announced its “smart messaging app,” Allo. At the time it sounded like a “me too” effort by Google to join the messaging party.
Allo launched this morning for both iOS and Android. After using it briefly, I can say it’s much more compelling than it initially sounded. It has a number of interesting chat-related features, but the surprise (for me) and most interesting capabilities involve search.
The app offers a differentiated experience, based on the inclusion of the Google Assistant and search capabilities. Allo users can ask the embedded Google Assistant and do things like conduct local searches, get maps, news, sports scores, weather and travel information, translate phrases, initiate restaurant reservations and do a range of other things.
Allo allows users to conduct a broad range of voice searches and get the same results they would on Google, but with enhanced location awareness.
While it remains to be seen what Google ultimately calls its “assistant” functionality — it seems like it’s going to be “Google Assistant” — Google Now as a product identity appears to be going away. We asked Google about this, and they responded: “We don’t comment on beta updates, as these are experimental and may change.”
Starting with Allo, Google says it will be deploying the Google Assistant across products:
We’re starting with a preview edition to show you just one way that your Assistant will work for you in chat. Over the coming months, your Assistant will be available in more Google products, working seamlessly throughout your day at home or on the go. The Assistant will initially be available in English, with more languages coming soon.
Allo, with its combination of chat, group chat and search, offers a unique hybrid user experience that isn’t currently available on Messenger or iMessage. We’ll be doing a deeper dive on Allo and the user experience in the coming several days.