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Brits, say Allo to Google's new messaging app

Engadget Engadget 23/09/2016 Jamie Rigg
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You might think that between your family thread on Facebook Messenger, your various friend groups on WhatsApp, and the trusted text a few acquaintances still insist on using, you've got all possible lines of communication covered. But spare a thought for Allo, Google's latest attempt to be more than just a fringe player in messaging. Allo made its debut on far-flung shores earlier this week, but as of today it's now available in the UK for Android and iOS.

Allo lets you to exchange words, images, stickers and the like in individual or group chats. Beyond the standard fare, you can increase or decrease message font size to "shout or whisper," and there's a smart reply option that drafts quick-responses on your behalf (with ambiguous success). You can't turn up late to the party with just a bottle of fizzy water in hand, though. Allo's champagne is the addition of Google Assistant, which works sort of like an eavesdropping concierge, suggesting nearby ramen restaurants if you mention you're in the mood for noodles, for example.

It's basically a way to access the internet from within the chat window, using conversational language. Discuss the weather, an impending flight you're on, suggest a cinema trip, and the Assistant will pull in relevant info and links. And, if your friends just aren't all that interesting, you can talk directly to the chatbot. It'll surface the latest news if you ask it to, set alarms or translate a phrase, much like Google Now, Siri or Cortana, just inside a chat window.

An important thing to note, the Assistant only knows to recommend this or that restaurant because it's listening to your entire conversation (and storing it, too). So keep it clean, or use Allo's end-to-end encrypted "incognito" feature for that stuff. Or Snapchat. Or Telegram.

Allo (Android), (iOS)

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