Google has released an important update to Google Allo that includes a new split-screen capability and quick reply support. These changes are largely part of a move to align the instant messaging app's features to Android 7.0 Nougat.
The new split-screen feature takes advantage of the Multi window functionality, which has been built in Android Nougat. This feature, which sets two applications working at the same time, has been pioneered by Samsung several years ago and finally got implemented in stock Android during its August launch.
For Google Allo, the split-screen mode will work by opening another app from the recent apps menu. Once an app is opened, Allo will stay active on top of it. Both can now be used at the same time.
Now, the inline reply feature can be used easily once a user receives a new Allo notification alert. After pulling the Notification shade down, a Reply option is now made available. Once tapped, the keyboard will appear so that the user can then type his or her reply.
Aside from the split-screen mode and the quick reply update, key enhancements also include the new capability to toggle chats to monochrome. Google Allo will also have direct voice recognition feature in Assistant, Direct Share and GIF support, among other improvements.
Overall, the split-screen and inline reply features are big updates for a messaging app like Allo. Observers are noting that this level of optimization can be interpreted as Google's aggressive strategy to push for the app's mass adoption.
Indeed, without Google's muscle, Google Allo could have easily been drowned in a sea of instant messaging apps in the market today. At this point, one can even say that Google Allo is still struggling especially when its competitors, such as Snapchat, already boast of more than 100 million users. In contrast, Google Allo is only categorized as having 5 to 10 million installations.
Google Allo has also attracted some controversy back in September. No less than Edward Snowden exhorted the public that the app is not a secure platform, stressing that it could serve as a surveillance tool.
The NSA whistleblower's beef with the app is its capability to spy and record practically everything people say. This has been underscored by the fact that Google has admitted that it is storing all user data in its servers indefinitely. The company argued, however, that it will only be used to improve the app, such as in the case of smart replies and Google Assistant.
Google Allo is available at the Google Play Store for free and will work on Android devices that are not running Nougat. The split-screen mode, however, is only limited to the latest OS.