Google Allo: Will It Beat the Competition?181
Instant messaging apps have already become quite common among smartphone users, and you will hardly find someone who doesn’t have at least one IM app installed on their device. Most people use several messengers so that they can contact their colleagues, friends, and family members. The market is currently overflowing with messengers from various developers, and new apps appear on a daily basis.
Despite that, the majority of users still prefer to use the almost traditional IM apps – WhatsApp and Viber. Because of that, it is quite difficult to launch a new app that would appeal to millions of potential users and make them switch from their current “favorites” (and convince their family and friends to do that, too). Let’s take a look at Google Allo and see if it is fit to take on its powerful competitors on the market.
Google Allo is a fairly recent addition to the mobile messenger collection, so we can expect minor problems to be fixed and new features to be added in the nearest future. But, even as a new kid on the block, Google Allo has a lot to offer.
First of all, what if you have already installed Google Allo on your phone but your recipient hasn’t? Well, what happens in this situation depends on whether they have an Android phone or an iPhone. In the latter case, they will receive your message as an SMS, and they will have to choose between actually installing Google Allo to answer you or just replying via SMS.
However, if they have an Android phone, they will receive your message as a notification, almost as if they already had the app installed. They will be able to reply to the notification via an instant message without any additional costs even if they choose not to download Google Allo. It is a nice touch, which is definitely going to appeal to Android users.
If your friend or colleague decides to give Google Allo a shot, all they have to do is download the app, enter their phone number, and verify it. It’s as simple as that – no need to create an account with your e-mail address or access the app using Facebook, but simplicity has its drawbacks. For instance, you can’t use the same Google Allo account on multiple devices, and there isn’t much you can do with your contacts list except import it from your phone and see which contacts are already using Google Allo.
However, simplicity and easy setup are not the features that should convince you to switch to Google Allo. The main force behind the new messaging app from Google is Google Assistant. This is something like the well-known Siri on iOS smartphones, except that Google tried to give Assistant a kind of personality.
It will learn your messaging habits and typical responses and suggest them to you so that you don’t waste time typing. You can also ask it anything directly from the conversation by typing @google and your question to the Assistant.
Apart from that, you can also draw right in your messages (only on Android phones), create group conversations, and chat in the incognito mode. If you use it, your messages won’t be stored on Google servers for Assistant to analyze and work out possible replies. One feature that’s unique to Google Allo is the ability to change the font size by dragging your finger up or down the “Send” button.
The design of Google Allo will be pretty familiar to anyone who has ever used an Android phone. It won’t stand out in the crowd of similar apps, but it does its job quite well: the user interface is straightforward and won’t keep you desperately looking for a particular function for hours.
It is really easy to install, setup, and start using Google Allo. It’s also a pretty stable app, which means that you won’t be annoyed by constant freezes or crashes. The one problem you might experience with Google Allo is the fact that it isn’t popular yet, so it is likely that your friends or colleagues will be using other IM apps.
Cross-Platform Use 7/10
As of now, you can only download Google Allo for mobile devices running on iOS and Android. Thus, if you want to install it on a Mac, PC, or a Windows-based tablet/phone, you’re in for a bad surprise: there’s currently no version of Google Allo for those platforms. Admittedly, IM apps are generally meant to work on mobile devices, and portable Windows devices aren’t that popular, but still it would have been nice to have the option of installing the messenger on a laptop or PC to have that extra screen space and a physical keyboard.
Having iOS and Android covered might be enough in the modern mobile-oriented world, yet Google Allo is lagging behind its competitors in this aspect.
Google Allo is a free app, and it doesn’t offer any in-app purchases.
The Bottom Line
Google Allo is a really good messaging app, and it could’ve been a huge success if it had come out several years earlier. However, the current situation is quite different, and the IM app from Google is facing some strong competitors that have been around for a while and managed to gain a devoted fan base. It might be quite difficult for Google Allo to convince all those people to give it a try, because, let’s face it, the Google Assistant feature with its smart replies might be not enough to persuade a significant number of users to change their preferences.
Google has created a solid messenger, but it should’ve aimed higher and created a great app with some unique features that could appeal to various groups of users.
It definitely won’t hurt to try the free Google Allo messaging app: it is pretty good and with some improvements could become a great alternative to services like Viber, What’sApp, Line, or iMessage.
Pros : Well integrated with Android devices;
Fun features, such as doodling in messages and changing font size;
Simple to install and start using;
Google Assistant for more personalized interaction.
Cons : Limited availability;
A relatively small number of users;
No syncing between various devices.
Cross-platform use 3.5