Google has launched a new smart messaging app called Allo that it hopes will rival WhatsApp, Facebook’s Messenger and Apple’s iMessage.
Where Allo differs from these already popular messaging apps is in its “smart” abilities: it can reply to messages for you and has an in-app assistant called “@google” that can search the internet, play videos and offer restaurant suggestions.
The app, which is available for iOS and Android users, draws on Google’s machine learning software to learn how its users talk in order to generate more appropriate suggested responses over time.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp has just added perhaps its most annoying feature ever. The app will now let people tag other users within conversations. And the notifications that come from those tags will come even if a chat has been muted – making it impossible to ignore. Like Twitter, Instagram and other social apps, using the “@” symbol to tag someone will alert them.
The feature is apparently intended as a way of allowing people to keep up with big group chats, and not to have to read or respond to every message but only to the relevant ones. The company has been looking to build up group chats – including changing the maximum group size from 100 to 256 people – and so the move appears to be a way of dealing with that. The move might also be part of WhatsApp’s attempt to move itself into people’s offices, as well as for organising their home lives
Google Allo and Assistant were first announced alongside the company’s video chat app Duo at the I/O developer’s conference in May and have been released ahead of the expected launch of new Google own-brand smartphones on 4 October.