Allo, it’s Google: Artificial-intelligence messenger app learns what you’re about to say

Erik Kay, engineering director at Google, introduces Allo and Duo on stage during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California May 18, 2016. © Stephen Lam
This summer, get ready for Allo — not the popular sunburn remedy, but an artificial-intelligence-driven messenger app from Google that could revolutionize the way people express themselves and stay connected with the ever-changing world around them.

The world got its first glimpse of Allo at Google’s yearly I/O conference on Wednesday. Its creators hope the Android and iOS app will transcend similar services like Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

Receiving a photo of clam linguini prompted Allo to offer responses like “Yummy!” and “I love linguini!” Fast Company reported. Known as Smart Reply, the feature may one day keep thumbs from worrying about autocorrect, as full conversations could be had at one tap per message.

As Allo gets to “know” its user over time, other responses, such as “I wish I wasn’t allergic,” could conceivably be produced. The app will do more than just recognize images and suggest responses, however.

Allo will offer an incognito mode including end-to-end encryption to protect privacy as well. On top of that, Google search will be available within, as will YouTube and games, according to Times of India. For example, “Emoji Games” challenges players to guess movie titles based on a series of emojis, Engadget reported.

Additionally, Allo will link up with Google Assistant to provide help with finding, purchasing, or reserving tickets, food, or any other kind of service – both online and off – that anyone might need.

Duo, a Google video calls app, will also work within Allo. Meanwhile, Google Hangouts, still an integral product for the company, will remain separate.

More fun enhancements to the messenger include Whisper Shout, which gives users the ability to slide the size of their text up or down to either “whisper” or “shout,” and a Snapchat-inspired effect that can put messages on top of photos.

Google’s Allo will differ from all other Google products, such as Gmail, in an important way. Signing up requires a phone number – having a Google account, or even an email address, is optional. This possibly signals interest from the company, now under the name of Alphabet, in a whole new audience, as it attempts to out-compete an emerging interconnected technological world previously unimaginable.