Google takes on Facebook, Apple with new Allo, Duo chat apps

Allo

Google is getting ready to take on communication juggernauts like Facebook Messenger and Apple FaceTime with pair of new chat apps dubbed Allo and Duo. First announced at the brand’s I/O event, both the new tools are based on your phone number, allowing you to talk to anyone in your phonebook.

Starting off with Allo, the key selling point of the app is its integrated support for Google Assistant and advanced machine learning skills. The platform comes with the company’s signature Smart Reply function built-in, intelligently guessing your typical response to a message. It’s even capable of analyzing photos.

For instance, if your friend sends you a photo of tacos Allo automatically suggests you respond by saying ‘yummy’ or ‘I love tacos.’ Smart Reply is supposed to get better and more personalized the more you use it. The app also offers the convenience of Google Search right within the chat window. A user could simply host a one-on-one chat with Assistant or instantly summon it while talking to a contact.

Duo

Assistant essentially gets rid of the need to exit a conversation to find something out, whether it’s finding restaurants near you or where a particular destination is. It also allows the other person to participate in the search, imitating a natural conversation style. Moreover, privacy hounds will be pleased to hear there’s an Incognito mode in Allo; just like Chrome.

Moving on to Duo, the focus of the app is lightning-quick video calling skills which are meant to function even on a slow connection by adjusting video quality. Video calling apps are notorious for gobbling up large amounts of data, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the application can maintain a decent HD video quality even on spotty networks.

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One of Duo’s stand-out abilities is Knock Knock, a fun feature which showcases a live video preview of the person calling you before you pick up. Google has also made sure transitions between Wi-Fi and cellular are seamless while on a call. Like Allo, the firm has fortified the app with privacy and security features like end-to-end encryption.

Allo and Duo are set to hit iOS and Android this summer.