Why Google’s Allo messaging app is a big deal

Google allo logo blue
© NextPit

The next big thing at Google is a little messaging app called Allo. The app was presented during yesterday’s Google I/O keynote, with the most interesting feature being a chatbot that is embedded directly into chats to provide the power of Google search in a casual and conversational way.

google io keynote 2016 allo
Allo being presented during the Google I/O keynote. / © Google

What is Allo all about?

Allo is essentially a straightforward text messaging platform that connects with your phone number, just as WhatsApp or Google Messenger does. This means that it runs independently of your Google account and will be multi-platform (read: it’ll run on Android and iOS). You can send messages, images and emoji, plus create chat groups just as you would with a platform like WhatsApp.

At a basic level, there’s nothing groundbreaking going on with Allo. It’s a messaging app. But where it gets interesting is the addition of a chatbot, which you can summon with a message to @Google from within a one-to-one or group chat. Up pops the bot and you can begin to ask questions.

At a basic level, there’s nothing groundbreaking in Allo

I’m still yet to perform an in-depth review of Allo, but what I’ve seen so far looks promising. Just as with the new Gboard app for iOS puts Google search right inside the iPhone’s keyboard, Allo will allow us to ask Google questions and then ask more questions based on the answers we get, all within our personal context. That’s the idea, anyway.

google keynote io 2016 allo 11
This is how to make dinner reservations with Allo.  / © Google

Why chatbots, why now?

Google is hedging a bet that its assistive technology, machine learning and AI prowess will be enough to outmuscle competitors (such as Facebook) in the messaging-as-a-platform space. The issue for Google is that if competitors’ platforms provide the answers we need without ever needing to leave Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Telegram, then we’d be less reliant on Google search.

With Allo, and also products like Google Home, Google is making a clear push to inject the power of search, its AI tech and also the voice recognition capabilities we’ve become accustomed to with Android’s Google Now app, deeper into our mobile experience. The announcement of Allo coincides with a sweeping push across the industry to integrate intelligent assistants into messaging apps.

androidpit chatbot 7
This is a bot in action. / © ANDROIDPIT

Will Allo succeed?

We’ll have to wait and see, of course. The way Allo’s assistant behaved during the I/O keynote was sure and scripted, but how it performs in a real-world context is yet to be seen. If it’s anything like we’ve seen with Google Now, or and even Siri, it might be less useful than Google would like to hope.

Until we’ve had time to see how Allo really works and how it reacts in varying scenarios – not during a keynote, but in everyday scenarios with varying levels of contextual complexity – we can only assume that there’s a lot of potential for Google to shape the future of mobile. But it has a lot to live up to.

What do you think of Google's Allo app? Do you like the idea of messaging a chatbot? Let me know in the comments. 

Omar Hamwi

Omar Hamwi

Omar has been a dedicated Android user since 2011. He began his career as a print journalist before a move into digital editing. He is passionate about technology and, since relocating from Sydney to Berlin, now shares his passion as part of the AndroidPIT team. His mission now is to help readers of AndroidPIT find the best hardware and software.

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  • Josh Bryer Sep 29, 2016 Link to comment

    yet again Google is the last to market ... every other belated attempt has failed ...

  • Parvind Chahal May 20, 2016 Link to comment

    wat they wil do with hangout now....first they invest in hangout for years n make google plus was must for all android user.....u cant make an app successful by imposting on users......if they would have invest in this type of program before they would have more popular till now.....

  • ben henneke May 19, 2016 Link to comment


    The bot and search in 'message' context could be really interesting.

    I have a 'hardware' question that really matters to me - is there any Android device which is actually 'readable' in bright sunlight. I've just returned from a trip to Uganda that had me outside lots of the time - and I couldn't get programs that I'm used to to work due to washed out screens. The person with me had an antique Palm that was clear and bright in the sunlight. All my recent Android phones and tablets have been powerful enough - now I need to be able to see them to 'interact' with them!



  • Mullet man May 19, 2016 Link to comment

    Id say a few special things! End to end encryption.. Thats a first for google.. The smart quick response is amazing too.

    Id rather give an email than my phone number anyday.. So i dont find that very cool..

    Super excited for this!

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