If you are an avid reader of this blog (like me!) then you probably have learned at least two things:
- I have mental health issues.
- I am an atheist.
You may have also picked up that I am also a geek due to the science and technology bits in my posts and also the references to 80s cartoons and movies. There’s also probably a few Star Wars and sci fi references sprinkled in these posts, too.
Well, I recently downloaded and tried out Google’s new messaging app “Allo“. Now what sets this app apart from WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Kik, Facebook Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger is that:
- IT’S MADE BY GOOGLE!
- That’s it.
Out of the 3-4 messaging apps listed above that people actually use, Allo does have some features that do make it stand out; however it is lacking some features that the majority of the more popular messaging apps have had for some time, but it brings some things to the table that all of the other apps just don’t have.
ALLO DOES SOME COOL SHIT!
Respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and suggests responses to text and photos, in your style.
There are some conversations that I have had without having to tying a word. Google Assistant learns your communication style and adapts your smart replies. If you also have a keyboard with predictive text; then you seriously almost never have to type anything out again.
Get creative with the photos you send by doodling on them or adding text.
Almost all apps can do this, but the camera functionality in this app makes it easier to actually do (see below).
Say it all with the perfect sticker. Stickers in Google Allo are designed by independent artists and studios from around the world.
Some of them are even animated! However, there are only like 4 packs that are any good right now (If stickers are your thing).
SHOUT or whisper
No more typing in ALL CAPS to get your point across. Say it louder or quieter by changing the size of your text with a quick swipe.
This sounds dumb, but is actually cool as hell.
Meet your personal Google Assistant
Google Allo brings you the Google Assistant, preview edition. Find restaurants nearby, share videos to watch, and get answers, right in your conversation with friends. Add @google to your group conversation or chat one-on-one with your Assistant. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.
Probably the coolest feature. You can bring Google into the conversation. In an argument about who that guy was that was in that movie you all saw that one time? Now you can end that shit quick. Everyone trying to decide on a restaurant? Now you can all look at what’s available in the chat. It’s pretty damn cool.
Send messages with end-to-end encryption, use private notifications to help keep your chats more discreet, and control how long your messages stick around with expiring chats.
One of my gripes and the huge flaw of this app. Due to Google Assistant and it’s learning capabilities, it has to scan your messages in order to learn how you communicate (Insert conspiracy theories here). So, end to end encryption cannot be enabled by default. I do believe that Google Assistant should be an Opt In feature and E2E Encryption should be the default.
The other mentions that I want to make about this app are that it does support .GIF files, can send pics, video, & voice messages. Plus, if you do turn on the camera it only takes up 1/2 the screen so you do not exit the chat. That was a HUGE thing for me. EVERY OTHER APP takes you out of the app and engages the entire screen when accessing the camera. Not this one. It also supports BitMoji ( like SnapChat) and has an awesome location sending feature based on Google Maps (of course). You can assign individuals their own notification tones; however you cannot change the background color/wallpaper in the chats or the bubble colors. And yes, of course, there are group chats.
One key feature that some say that this app is missing is SMS integration. If you used Hangouts, you remember (or know if you are still using it) that you could message people that either had Hangouts or didn’t have Hangouts because it did both Messaging and SMS; however it was confusing as hell. Because half the time you didn’t know if you sent out a mass text, a group chat or a mix of both. I still use Hangouts on my tablet and desktop to make and receive calls and texts from my Google Voice number. Honestly, I don’t see the need for SMS integration. To me these are two separate things that I like on two separate apps. I guess I am old and set in my ways.
The true uphill battle with this app (or any messaging app) is this: Your friends have to install it in order to actually use it. This is the flaw in the concept of messaging apps. If you have never tried getting your friends to install a completely free application onto their phone and take the 2-3 minutes to set it up; then let me tell you what you are in store for. Your friends will suddenly hate you for instigating change in their lives, they will turn into 4 year old children and begin to cry while throwing a tantrum, they will then question you about everything regarding this application (and your 10+ years working in the IT industry with a focus on mobile devices/applications) as if you coded it yourself just last night. Then you will in turn start to question why you are trying to make communicating with this group of thankless assholes easier and more enjoyable. Then once they do install it, of course they think it’s fun and awesome*.
(*Results may vary.Because there’s always that “one”.)
Right now, the majority of my friends are on Telegram. Mainly because it has a desktop client, awesome stickers, integrated Gify.com search, sticker bots that will allow you to make your own stickers, awesome pre-made sticker packs, and it’s encryption is top-notch; however there are two things that make me want to migrate from it.
- There has been little to no development on this application since August and even that was a bug fix. The only major improvements are usually sticker or bot related.
- This application is the #1 messaging app choice of terrorists! It has also drawn the attention of government entities all across the globe. Which means possible lawsuits, investigations, and lack of funding for development.
What’s awesome about this app is that it’s free , Open Source,and it’s funded by a couple of Russian brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov that sound like awesome guys; however the app generates no income. Once it , or the Durov brothers, run out of funds; then it will require donations or a subscription. Also, this app was HUGE until WhatsApp introduced End to End encryption by default and Voice Calls. Since then the user base and the development has slowed considerably.
Speaking of WhatsApp.
I do have a couple of friends overseas that use it. So, I also have it installed. WhatsApp is has no stickers ( if that’s your thing), it does do .GIFs, pics (no drawing/Ink though), video and does voice messages. You can also make calls with it. It also has a desktop client (that is a complete pain in the ass to use). It used to be a pretty good app, until Facebook bought it. Now, WhatsApp shares your information with your Facebook account to show you better ads; however you can OptOut of this, if you know how. Even though the CEO of WhatsApp always said that WhatsApp would never be used to sell ads ( Even quotes Fight Club). Now you can also totally piss off your friends in WhatsApp by tagging them ( Like on FaceBook) in a conversation that they don’t even want to be in. So, you can see why we all migrated from this app.
As far as the others go, I don’t use FB Messenger, because I am not on FaceBook. I don’t use Kik because it is a pointless, shitty app. I don’t use BlackBerry Messenger anymore because:
- I don’t work for them anymore.
- It’s not 2004.
Yahoo Messenger hasn’t been used since 1996, and Viber sounds like a sex toy.
So, Allo is starting strong IMO. I think that if people will give it a shot and Google keeps up with development that it will be a strong contender. Now I just have to get my lazy ass friends to install it and quit bitching about having to install a free fucking app on their damn phone.
I may need to start drinking again.
Wish me luck.