Google Allo released, letting people chat while being watched by its robots

The ‘Google Assistant’ is always listening and ready to help out

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 21 September 2016 13:11 BST
Google Allo released, letting people chat while being watched by its robots

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Louise Thomas

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Google’s Allo chat app has finally been released.

The new messaging platform hopes to win people over from the huge variety of other chat apps – like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – by taking advantages of Google’s smart robots. The little assistant sits within the app itself, and can be called on as part of a conversation.

That tool, referred to as Google Assistant, leverages all Google’s power in storing and finding out information. And it’s accessed by talking to it as people would in anyone else in a chat – asking questions and having them answered, only the person knows almost everything in human knowledge.

That same technology is included in chats with other people. So if you’re talking about a flight or a nearby restaurant, then you can call up the assistant and have it help out.

Just as all of that information is pulled in from Google, the company takes data back, too. Unlike other apps including WhatsApp and iMessage, Allo chats aren’t encrypted by default and so can be read by Google – and then used to make the ads across the rest of Google’s pages more relevant.

Google hopes to convince people that’s not too much of a problem by using their data to help them, too. So, for instance, Allo includes a Smart Reply feature that guesses what people want to say so they don’t have to type it – over time, that will know more about its user and bring up better suggestions.

But if people don’t want their data shared with Google, the app includes an Incognito Mode that makes them encrypted and better hidden – as well as turning off data features like the Google Assistant. Some have criticised that for making encryption something that needs to be turned on and for making it seem shady, but it is the only way to keep Google from reading the ocnversations that are being had on the new platform.

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