Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Why is Google making Allo and Duo?

Have you heard about the upcoming Google apps, Allo and Duo? They are expected to be released some time this summer, but the exact date has not been set. So, what are they, and why should you care?

Well, clearly, you should care. People care about iMessage and Facetime, and that's effectively what Allo and Duo are. Allo is a new app that provides the same functionality as iMessage, and Duo provides the same functionality as Facetime. That is an oversimplification, of course, but Google is clearly looking to take on those messaging platforms. Currently, they have one app that has nothing like the ubiquity of Apple's products. Google's current app (which they intend to keep, for now) is called Hangouts.

Allo has a bunch of slick features that are intended to update the messaging experience. It is expected to support the famous group chat of iMessage, it will definitely include potential unsaved encrypted messages, and it will involve an AI to assist you in replying or planning things. For instance, the AI will pop up with suggested responses based on what was sent to you, and suggest things that might be relevant, such as nearby restaurants when you are talking about meeting up for food. The rumours also seem to suggest that it will also make it possible to sync messages to your computer.

Duo is a video chat app similar to Facetime. It is designed to provide high-quality video that will work on Wi-Fi or mobile data, if you allow it to do so. It has been reported that the transition is seamless, too, so you won't notice the change because of a glitch in the video. There is also encryption available for video chats, of course, just like in Allo. It also has a clever feature to show you the incoming video before you answer, so you can see who it is. Of course, you're not sending video until you answer.

Both of these apps are designed around your phone number as the identifier, which hints at being able to seamlessly transition between your contacts, friends, and unknown parties. Both apps will be available on both iOS and Android, so you don't have to worry about what you're using in order to connect. Unfortunately, this may mean that they won't work on other devices yet, that don't have phone numbers. This also means that they could be planning to take on Apple, or play nicely. It would definitely make things easier if Duo and Facetime could interact, or Allo and iMessage. Of course, that is probably just a pipe dream at this point, as the likelihood of those working together seems to be a ways off.

So would you use this software? I probably would. And I will definitely give them a try in the summer when they are available. Will I continue to use them? I like using hangouts, so if it isn't better then I have no need to stick with it. What do you think?

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