New Google apps at I/O 2016: ‘Allo’ for messaging and ‘Duo’ for video calling

By , May 18, 2016

Google Duo image 001

Google’s annual pilgrimage for developers kicked off earlier this morning with a keynote which was streamed live on YouTube in both regular and full 360-degree VR modes.

The keynote presentation saw some interesting announcements from the search giant, including a pair of new apps from Google for iOS and Android.

Coming to your iPhone this summer: a smart messaging app called Allo and Duo, a simple one-to-one video calling software with a built-in personal digital assistant. The apps look cool but I was hoping they’d improve Hangouts with new features.

Let’s start off with Allo.

Allo, a smart messaging app

Like Viber and WhatsApp, Allo requires only your mobile phone number.

The app is packed with some cool features that stem from Google’s integrated machine learning algorithm. In addition to standard emojis and stickers, Allo has a Smart Reply feature for responding to messages without typing, by providing suggestions that Google says “are in your style”.

Google Allo expresiveness animation 002

“For example, it will learn whether you’re more of a ‘haha’ vs. ‘lol’ kind of person. The more you use Allo the more ‘you’ the suggestions will become,” explains Google. This feature can also provide relevant suggestions based on the content of the photo.

Someone may send you a photo of tacos, for example. Allo will determine what’s on the photo and provide Smart Reply suggestions like “yummy” or “I love tacos.”

Google Duo Smart Replies animation 002

Like Snapchat, Allo lets you sketch using built-in drawing tools.

There’s also a Whisper Shout feature in Allo and a Chrome-like Incognito mode with end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications. Most importantly, Allo feature a built-in Google chat that also powers its new Echo-like ‘Home’ appliance.

The assistant lets you do things like book a dinner reservation, look up sports scores, settle a bet, play a game and more. Akin to features available in Google’s Gboard iPhone keyboard, the assistant integrates with Search, Maps, YouTube and Translate.

Google Allo assistant animation 002

Based on data in your Google account, it can provide context-relevant results like your agenda for the day, details of your flight and hotel or photos from your last trip.

“And since it understands natural language patterns, you can just chat like yourself and it’ll understand what you’re saying. For example, “Is my flight delayed?” will return information about your flight status,” says Google.

Duo, one-to-one video calling for everyone

Designed for iOS and Android, Duo is being billed as “a simple, fast one-to-one video calling app for everyone”. Based on your mobile phone number like Allo, the app has a minimalistic user interface which fades away when you’re in a call.

Google Duo image 002

A feature called Knock Knock shows you a live video preview of the caller, before you pick up. Google says Duo calls are transmitted in up to 720p quality, with the app adjusting video quality on the fly so that it works well even on spotty networks.

All video calls via Duo are end-to-end encrypted by default and they seamlessly transition between cellular and Wi-Fi.

Both Allo and Duo will be available this summer on Android and iOS.

Source: Google

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  • Abhijeet Gupta

    They’ve really outdone themselves this year, instead of launching a messaging app no one is waiting for, they launched two!

    • Jerry

      Lmao!

    • igorsky

      haha well played!

    • Jayy

      Haha

    • Agneev Mukherjee

      Yeah, LOL, 2 Apps – One for video, another for texting.. Next will Google launch separate apps for camera – Photo, Video, Panorama, Photo Sphere…???

      • Abhijeet Gupta

        they should have clubbed all of them together in one app, rather than bloating our screen with multiple apps, whats app integrated audio calls in the app itself, now they are brining video call and voice mail to us, its kinda exciting, but google doesn’t seem to learn what the users want. Android N, yes I’m excited about it, moe than I’m for iOS 10.

      • Matt Perkins

        They will do whatever they feel is the best way to collect as much information on you as they can. Whether it be an encryption app that only they have access to your data or a camera app that uses the pictures taken to add to their database of facial recognition.

  • Jerry

    Why don’t they develope a imessaging like app that attaches itself to your phone number? Does apple hold a patent to this? Because I know a lot of people not jumping ship or are willing to try android is because of the horrid SMS and no third party messaging apps do not cut it. Someone please explain this to me

    • TechnoBuff

      Duo uses your phone number as an identifier….

      • Jerry

        So are they aiming this like a iMessage?

      • TechnoBuff

        Based on what was said today, i think it will work like Imessage/facetime but we shall see.

      • pegger1

        Sounds like duo is just facetime allo is the messaging app. Why wouldn’t it just be one app?

      • TechnoBuff

        I want to believe that this is not possible due to the fact that they cannot create a two features in one app and make it device agnostic.

      • pegger1

        Google Hangouts already covers messaging and video calling on both Android and iOS.
        Why wouldn’t they just upgrade that app?

      • Rowan09

        Because no one uses it. Only Google services people really use (my opinion) is Maps, search and YouTube.

      • jOn Garrett

        Those are the only services iOS users use. Everybody else uses services like Android Pay, Gmail, Drive, chrome, Docs etc.

      • Rowan09

        Oh yes gmail as well and Chrome. Docs is marginal like Pages, etc and drive is meh. Android Pay had no movement until Apple Pay and it’s still not widely used. Hangouts suck, Google + was just horrible and finally they made the reply system in YouTube better since shelving Google +.

      • Rowan09

        Nope just another messaging app.

      • Phil Randle

        The Verge did a coverage on it earlier, it won’t have SMS Diversion like Apple’s iMessage. Its also mobile only with no desktop support expected (which makes it pointless)

      • Blip dude

        Wait, how does lack of desktop support make it pointless?? As of right now, iMessage on Mac is actually pointless, so having this on a desktop will essentially make it pointless as well (for me at least).

      • Phil Randle

        I think you are generalising with your own experience, I travel for work and I’m in conferences daily. Whenever conversations come up around device ecosystems, iMessage is always the first mentioned.

        I work on my laptop a large amount of my time, being able to quickly respond to someone (even if it’s not an iMessage message) straight from my MacBook has improved my workflow so much.

        I can at times get 30 business related texts and up to 5 calls during a weeknight, ever since Apple made the decision to forward those through there iMessage server and into my other devices, my workflow has improved dramatically.

        Google’s Allo is a messenger service designed for the teens, and provides no features that entice me to switch, if I personally were to switch to that service I would be back to picking up my phone every 5 minutes just to reply to a message, Facebooks Messenger even has a desktop experience available (among other 3rd party apps) as do Whatsapp.

      • Matt Perkins

        No because iMessage doesn’t need your phone number to work all it needs is your Apple ID. It was created so an iPod Touch user could send or receive messages from an iPhone or iPad user. Also iMessage is fully encrypted to where even Apple can’t access your messages. Allo on the other hand if you turn on encryption will prevent anyone BUT Google from accessing your messages which means the government can get your messages using a warrant or a hacker can get your messages by hacking Google’s server. As you may know by now a company has to hand over any information they have if served with a warrant but the company right now can’t be forced to weaken security. Since Apple can’t access your iMessages they can’t hand them over to law enforcement even if served with warrant.

    • jOn Garrett

      Horrid SMS? lol, what a clown you are. Nobody is leaving iOS for iMessage.

      Why would anyone want a messaging app that only works of the person you want to message has the same phone?

      And then have you messages held hostage if you want to try something new

      • Jerry

        Everyone has a android or a iPhone so that’s pretty simple. SMS needs to die

  • :D

    This’ll get nowhere
    Imagine iMessage running on non-Apple devices, though. That would be big.

    • TechnoBuff

      You seem to have missed the point that Duo runs on all devices….. and optimized even for weak signals or do you just feel the need to denegrate

      • pegger1

        Duo is video only.

      • TechnoBuff

        I am aware of that… Allo is for messaging. the point is both apps are device agnostic compared to Imessage

      • Jackson Grong

        Yeah because they make money by selling your messages to others, iMessage is encrypted.

      • Vincent Bell

        You may have missed the second line of this…..

        There’s also a Whisper Shout feature in Allo and a Chrome-like Incognito mode with end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications. Most importantly, Allo feature a built-in Google chat that also powers its new Echo-like ‘Home’ appliance.

      • igorsky

        This sounds much better than WhasApp.

        Oh no wait, it doesn’t.

      • :D

        Well, you seem to have missed the point I was making about iMessage running on non-Apple devices, i.e. cross-platform on all devices…

  • TechnoBuff

    Today’s Google I/O shows how different Apple and Google are…
    Apple should have made Face-time device agnostic which is a good way to draw users into its ecosystem but somehow they didn’t. Google launched Duo which will work across all OS…. and also an advanced messaging app Allo.

    I see a lot of IOS users not using Face-time anymore if Duo kicks off well
    As much as people like to knock Google, Google is doing some pretty interesting stuffs and being more dynamic than ever.

    For a lot of IOS users, Google apps are the most used…

    Good Job Google!

    • Rowan09

      But almost everyone has messenger or some messaging app, this is just another one of them. People use FaceTime and FaceTime audio because it’s baked into the OS.

  • ArtieMack

    I’m incredibly impressed by allo. Duo on the other hand looks nice but on iOS it will be gimped like all third party calling apps. We’ll never get that beautiful preview before answering unless we tap the notification first. And if you miss the notification? too damn bad.

    I want Apple to open up the call API so apps like this can seamlessly over our screens like Phone/Facetime can.

    • Rowan09

      Doubt that will happen. Some apps are and will be closed just like all of Google services apps are closed.

  • Rodney Coleman

    Anyways still a knock off lol

  • Phil Randle

    Google went the wrong way with this, they should have just launched the Android equivalent of iMessage. I have dozens of friends who love the feature iMessage has where it can transport your text messages to other devices along as both devices have an active connection.

    iMessage is one of my favourite Apple features, I can leave my phone on charge and use the macbook and still reply to everything.

    Them wanting to take on ‘Messenger’ is an enormous task, it won’t be long before they overtake WhatsApp, the biggest thing messenger has that other services don’t is that if you need to talk to someone, odds are most of them are on Facebook and you can start a conversation with them immediately. No phone number required.

  • Matt Perkins

    Allo would only be useful if encryption was turned on by default and Google wouldn’t be able to access the data. We all know Google won’t create an app they can’t collect data to sell. Never trust any product for security or privacy if it’s made by a company that makes almost all it’s money by selling data. WhatsApp for instance was a wonderful app for privacy but after Facebook purchased it you know they collect your data. The encryption to them means only THEY can have access to your data. Which also means the government and any hacker can have access to your data. Government with a warrant (government can demand a company hand over anything they have control of but can’t force a company to weaken their security itself) and hackers can merely hack Facebook or Google to collect the data. You’re better off getting an iPhone and using iMessage and Facetime if encryption truly matters to you. Apple encrypts data that even they can’t access. Which has been shown through the battle with the DoD and FBI

  • Nice post! Google Allo is a smart messaging app that makes your conversations easier and more expressive. It is based on your phone number and connect with with anyone in your phone book. Thanks for sharing valuable information.