Google debuts Allo, an AI-based chat app using its new assistant bot, smart replies and more | TechCrunch
|Photo: Ingrid Lunden|
Giving users the ability not just to chat to each other with animated graphics and enlarging/shrinking text, but to call in Google (and later other third-party apps) to share media, plan events, buy things, and even think of what to say to each other. The iOS and Android app is being unveiled today, but it will only be live this summer, Google says.
Meet Duo, a new way to video call
If you are a Google news watcher, Allo may not come as a complete surprise: back in December the WSJ reported that the company was working on an AI-based messaging app: this appears to be that very product.
The app comes at an interesting time for Google. The company has made a number of attempts at building social products over the years, but products like Google+, Wave and Buzz never really caught on at a time when other products like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have taken off.
But on the other hand, Google is king when it comes to information services from Search to Maps and more; its email service is hugely popular; it has a formidable engineering machine learning teams; and Google’s Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform.
So while there are already a number of popular messaging apps out there today like Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger; Viber; Line; WeChat and others like Slack focusing on enterprise — it’s no surprise to see Google pooling together its strong cards to see if it can make its own messaging product fly.
Allo is also something that Google hopes to meet a wider shift in how its own services are being used. “We are building search to be much more assistive,” Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai noted today during the I/O keynote when unveiling Google Assistant and the many helping nudges it gives you when you are looking for information through Google.com. He also noted that some 50% of queries these days are coming from mobile, so the audience is already there.
Although Google apparently tried to acquire at least one startup — 200 Labs, now called ChatFuel –to help build Allo, the app was developed in-house by Google’s own teams led by Erik Kay, director of engineering for Google’s Communication team, who also led today’s presentation at I/O.
Also important to note: The Hangouts mobile app — which also offers a chat option — is not going away. Google says it will continue to invest in and update this alongside Allo.
Source: TechCrunch and Google channel (YouTube)