On Tuesday, Google officially released Allo, its new smart messaging app for Android and iOS. The app offers many chat features, but it also includes some security and productivity capabilities that professionals will find useful.
Allo was originally announced at the 2016 Google I/O conference in May, alongside video calling app Duo. While it allows users to change font sizes, or add effects and emojis, it also provides an incognito mode, a new smart reply feature, and a virtual assistant, potentially making it a useful enterprise tool.
The concept of secure messaging, particularly relative to encryption, has been growing in popularity since Apple's battle with the FBI over iPhone encryption earlier this year. There are a plethora of third-party apps available to accomplish this, but Google takes it a step further by integrating it into Allo.
As part of the Allo experience, all messages are encrypted through Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, users can also chat in "Incognito Mode," which offers "end-to-end encryption and additional privacy features like discreet notifications and message expiration," according to a Google blog post announcing Allo's availability.
On the other end of the competitive spectrum, Apple's iMessage has end-to-end encryption standard for all users. However, Allo is cross-platform, while iMessage is not, and Allo can even send messages to Android users who haven't installed the app.
Smart Reply is a new feature that makes it easier and quicker to respond to messages. For example, the tool will suggest responses based on previous messages, allowing users to tap a potential response, instead of writing it out.
Google Allo also comes with a new virtual assistant called Google Assistant, which will only be available in preview for now. Think of it like a chatbot, similar to what you'd find in Slack. Users type @google to bring the Assistant into a group chat, or to converse with it one-on-one. Users can then query the Assistant for weather, traffic, flight status, or even ask it to bring up a YouTube video of a task they are trying to accomplish. This is the "intelligent" part of the app, and Google Assistant will be moving into other Google products in the future, the blog post said.
One specific feature, that I haven't been able to confirm or deny, would be the integration of Allo with corporate Gmail accounts. If Allo could search emails, or even allow access to Gmail chat, it would provide even more value to professional users.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google Allo was officially released on Tuesday, with new security and productivity features that will help professional users.
- Allo messages are encrypted, and a new Incognito Mode brings end-to-end encryption and extra security features.
- Smart Reply and Google Assistant make it easier to communicate with colleagues, and make plans for projects or travel.
- US government officially recalls Samsung Galaxy Note7 over battery concerns (TechRepublic)
- The future of Android likely means the death of Android (ZDNet)
- Android 7.0 Nougat: What business users need to know and when it's coming (TechRepublic)
- Google's messaging mess is desperately in need of consistency (ZDNet)
- Google launches its Slack competitor, Spaces (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.