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Google has unveiled its AI-powered messenger app Google Allo with voice-call support today for iOS and Android users. The app is currently live in selected geographical regions including India, while the company said that it would be rolled out worldwide in the coming days. Allo is designed to sort of ‘auto-complete’ messages by predicting answers to questions in a conversation, or creating a standardized set of replies by learning user behavior.

Apart from this, the app can help users to make plans with friends, fetch information from the web; for e.g. if you need to make a dinner plan with another person, you can use an in-built Google Assistant to display restaurants nearby and subsequently save the plan in your calendar. Google claims that “the more you use it, the more it improves over time.” Following is a low-down of features in Allo and how the app learns to adapt to the user.

Incognito mode and end-to-end encryption: All chats in Google Allo are encrypted using Transport Layer Security, which is a protocol to encrypt messages while it’s being delivered, but is not necessarily end-to-end encryption. Only when a user is using the incognito mode in Allo, all messages will have end-to-end encryption. The incognito mode will also provide additional privacy features like discreet notifications and message expiration.

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Smart Reply feature: A user can respond to messages like “Are you on your way?” with just a tap; the Smart Reply feature will pop-up pre-saved replies like a “yup”, “yes”, “yea” depending on how the user had replied earlier to similar messages. Allo even recognizes “whether you’re a ‘haha’ or ‘?’ kind of person”, Google claims.

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Customized emojis, picture replies: A user can change the size of an emoji or message text by simply dragging the “send” button upwards or downwards. Users can also scribble on top of images, or add text before sending them. Google claims to have collaborated with independent artists and studios across the world to create more than 25 custom sticker packs.

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Google Assistant: Google Allo comes with an integrated AI-based personal assistant. You can talk to the assistant one-on-one or invoke it’s by using the “@google” tag in middle of conversation with a friend or in a group chat. You can invoke the assistant within group chats to inquire about movie timings, travel destinations, flights, hotels, etc and make plans collectively. Google mentions that in the coming months the Assistant will be available in “more Google products, working seamlessly throughout your day at home or on the go” and will be rolled out in more languages other than English.

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Daily updates and answers: You can even use Google Assistant to deliver you daily updates about information like weather, daily news, sports, or even an upcoming flight’s status. A user can also ask questions and get answers instantly using Google Assistant. Note that all this can be done within group/Individual conversations or with Google Assistant’s one-one chat box.

Competition

Allo users need not create a new Google account to sign up for the service, they simply need to choose a username and the app will identify a user based on their mobile numbers. With this, Google is directly looking to compete with services like Facebook-owned WhatsApp that reportedly crossed 1 billion Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in February. Facebook’s standalone messenger service crossed 1 billion MAUs in July, and had already opened AI-based bot development to third party developers in April. Telegram, which also has end-to-end encryption crossed 100 million MAUs in February. In January this year, Hike Messenger claimed that it crossed over 100 million registered users and 40 billion messages monthly.

Image Credits: Google