It seems like Google has been sitting back and watching the messaging app market, waiting for the perfect time to release one of its own. And waiting might've been a good idea because the company plans to release an application that could be smarter than the competition thanks to the use of AI.
Google previewed its messaging app called Allo at its annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday, which, from the sounds of it, will compete against popular options out there such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
On the surface, Allo appears to have all the typical features of a messaging app. Users can send and receive text, photos and video, as well as draw on the photos Snapchat style.
Similar to WhatsApp, Line and the like, users sign up for Allo via their phone number. This means they can connect with anyone in their contacts (assuming that they can send an invite to those who are not using the platform) instead of just those who were in their Google Hangouts account.
But taking a page from Facebook Messenger's playbook, the Allo platform also uses machine learning, using its smarts to "keep your conversations flowing and help you get things done."
The messaging app includes Google Inbox's Smart Reply feature that makes it easier and faster to reply to friends. Smart Reply provides the users with response suggestions and learns which options you favor over time the more you use it. This feature can even be applied after a friend sends a photo.
If you are thinking what's a text message without an emoji, don't worry because Google has this covered. Users can send friends emojis and stickers via its Expressions feature, along with GIFs and small and enlarged text in its Whisper and Loud mode.
More impressively, Google is integrating its newly announced digital assistant into the app, which understands natural language and uses Search, Maps, YouTube and Translate to provide information and help with tasks directly in the app.
Much like chatbots that are becoming popular in messaging apps, Google's assistant will do everything from setting the dinner reservations when in the group chat to giving your favorite sport team's score when talking trash with a friend — without leaving Allo.
The assistant will automatically bring up places to go if your friend says they want to grab dinner nearby as well as more information such as the restaurant's hours. Users can also access the assistant by tapping "@google" where they can chat with it one on one, say to get their flight information or when chatting with friends to Google search something.
Google's messaging app is also stealing a feature from WhatsApp: encrypted messages. All messages will feature end-to-end encryption when the user chooses to be in what is known as Incognito mode while in the app. Going Incognito will also come with discreet notifications, with more features expected to be added in the future.
It's important to note that Allo hasn't launched just yet. Instead, Google showcased just what its smart messaging app can do.
Allo will launch this summer for both iOS and Android.