Google officially joins the messaging wars today. The company has rolled out its chat app, Allo, to take on WhatsApp. The app launches globally today. The company had announced Allo at its I/O developer conference earlier this year.
A standalone messaging app, Allo comes with a built-in search engine and has Google Assistant, the company’s conversational version of Google Now, integrated. Just like Facebook’s WhatsApp, the app uses user’s phone number as primary identification. Users can also link Allo to their Google accounts.
An important feature of Google Allo is the built-in search, which allows users to search by just typing @google followed by their query. This means that users don’t need to leave the chat window for searching information relevant to the current conversation. The AI-powered search is said to be based on the company’s Knowledge Graph.
Along with with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing chats, Google has also extended its Incognito private mode to Allo. Users can also reportedly set time limits for their messages, setting them to self-destruct after 10 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute, an hour, a day, or longer.
Google Allo offers numerous country-specific emojis and custom stickers. However, the app lacks features like document sharing and calling, that are there in whatsapp.
Allo is designed to be a counterpart to Duo, Google’s video-chat app that rolled out to users globally in mid-August. The app too was unveiled at this year’s I/O conference.
A Google official recently said that the company is planning to add audio-calling too to the app. The company’s product lead of communication Amit Fulay recently wrote in a blog post that the voice-calling feature is “coming soon” to Duo.
Almost a month-old app, Duo is also claimed to have crossed 10 million downloads on Google Play Store.