Allo is Google's new, insanely smart messaging app that learns over time

Google Allo
Google Allo (Image credit: Android Central)

Google has announced a new smart messaging app, Allo. The app is based on your phone number, and it will continue to learn from you over time, making it smarter each day. In addition to this, you can add more emotion to your messages, in ways that you couldn't before. You will be able to "whisper" or "shout" your message, and the font size will change depending on which you select. This is accomplished by pressing the send button and dragging up or down to change the level of emotion.

You'll also be able to draw on your photos before you send them with the Ink feature, add stickers and emoji and much more. Taking a page out of its success with Inbox, Allo will also have Smart Reply built right in. You can use emoji in the Smart Reply, and it will also work when people send you pictures. For example, if you receive a picture of a dog, the replies that will pop up are related to the dog.

Assistant Integration

Google will be building its new Assistant feature right into Allo as well. For example, if you are talking with a friend about Italian food, you get a suggestion that you can tap to display to everyone in the message thread to help decide on a restaurant. Once you all agree on a place, Google Assistant will help you book a table through OpenTable right from within the messaging thread. Being conversational, all of the members are sending messages to the Google Assistant like they are talking with another human.

You'll be able to call on the Assistant at any time during a conversation by simply typing "@google" and then your query. For example, you can type "@google funny cat pics" and then get responses right in the chat. These chats can take place in group form, or one-on-one with just the Assistant.

Bored and want to play a game? Well, Assistant can help you with that as well. There is an emoji game that gives you various emoji and you have to pick what they translate into. Developers will be able to create and submit games that the Assistant can play with others.

Incognito Mode

Understanding that you don't always want everything to be seen by everyone, Allo will also offer an Incognito mode like it does in Chrome. This provides end-to-end encryption, time-deleted messages and the ability to hide the sender and receiver details. As soon as you close the Incognito mode, everything that you did will disappear, like it never happened.

Allo will be available on both iOS and Android later this summer.

More: Google I/O 2016 coverage

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.
125 Comments
  • Allo is far too creepy for me
  • You are just creepy, period.
  • Absolutely. My initial reaction was "TECHNOLOGY HAS GONE TOO FAR," but my secondary, unrealistic reaction is, where's one step closer to the Fuchikoma/Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell. But mostly the first part, about not liking a messenger app learning my habits are predicting my responses.
  • +1ing this just for the Ghost in the Shell reference. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just eliminate humans entirely. Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Right? "My mum just died" *Allo suggests "so sad rip :-(" as reply* *click* Posted via the Android Central App
  • "Remember Allo? It's a shame that didn't catch on" Posted via the Android Central App
  • Haha pretty much the story of anytime Google tries to touch anything remotely related to social media. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • We will be saying that before the year is out. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • It won't catch on, but that doesn't seem like much of a shame.
  • Allo sounds too much like Ello... remember THAT? Posted via the Android Central App
  • "EEELLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOO" R.I.P GPe program
  • It's me #TeamFrosty Nexus 6P
  • So is this like SMS or like hangouts replacement? Posted via the Android Central App
  • It would be nice if Google did not make a new messaging app every year (Hangouts, Messenger) and would just update one.... Posted via my LG G4
  • +1!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Damn straight Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Exactly!!!!!!! Living In An Android World
  • That would make too much sense! But yeah things like themes/skins, being able to play youtube vids in a chat window, being able to change the annoying default notification sound easily and a list of other things they could've added instead of making a new damn messenger. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Seriously this, the YouTube messaging update, even Spaces...all could have just been implemented into Hangouts. For me it makes more sense to just make one messaging app more and more robust rather than constantly making a new app and forgetting the old one. Posted via Android Central App
  • Google Voice, Messenger, Hangouts, Allo... How many different messaging apps do you need?
  • Apparently one called Duo?
  • You may want to consider Google Spaces, some think of it as group messaging as well!! What's up Google !!!
  • No kidding. Textra is still, Textra, just better. Same can probably be said for Whatapp (I don't use it so I wouldn't know for sure). Google should just pour ALL of its MMS, SMS, video chat know how it Hangouts and call it done. MS has always annoyed me with its six ways to do the same thing approach and now Google is doing six applications to do the same thing. The same but different. WTF.
  • It took me years to persuade people to use WhatsApp. It's taken those people years to persuade their parents to use WhatsApp. By the time I manage to persuade my friends to use Allo, Google will have killed it and replaced it with something else. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol! I know your struggles! Posted via Techmology
  • I've given up. My wife uses hangouts with me. Everyone else uses text. I wont even shift to Allo unless video calls are dramatically better with Duo (I travel a lot).
  • And I thought I was the only one.
  • As it's based on your phone number so I'm betting people with out the app will still be able to communicate with you via normal sms much the way the hangouts app works if you use it as your text message app as well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah but screw SMS. What's the point in an app with all this functionality when you can't use most of it by SMS. Besides, like I say everyone uses WhatsApp, which won't be compatible with this at all. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Which is exactly the problem with hangouts already! Posted via the Android Central App
  • No one I know uses WhatsApp. They hate that they have to talk everyone else they know into using it for it to be usefull. This being cross platform and backwards compatible to standard sms/mms could make it more useful. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If it didn't work for hangouts, why will it work for this? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I know what you mean. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Look at my dad's phone. Whatsapp, WeChat, SMS, and Messenger, among several others. He has a lot of business clients worldwide, so they all use different chat clients. Which makes me ask: Why doesn't everyone use a single unified messaging app that anyone anywhere can use that isn't restricted by country? This is a legit question, BTW. I'm interested to know why. R.I.P GPe program
  • Ecosystem lock in. Everyone wants to lock people into their services, so interoperability is unlikely to happen any time soon. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Knock knock... Allo? Posted via the Android Central App
  • STOP MAKING NEW MESSAGING APPS!!! For God's sake man, just update Hangouts. Do you think the Hangouts brand is too bad to update it and have people use it? A new brand "allo" is not going to overcome that. I just got my family on Hangouts ... I'm telling you as an avid Android and Google lover, I'm NOT moving everybody to a new platform now.
  • Your post basically sums up the user end but for whatever reason Google cant/wont grasp that and wonder why thier products dont get adopted. People are starting to think why use it when google wont update it and spread consumer awareness about said product and then just kill it down the line. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
  • Another one? What happens to Hangouts now? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Idk Google will confuse us until a blog post later on Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I am not adopting YET ANOTHER messaging app, Google. You better start combining your ****.
  • Agree Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
  • Awesome.. So instead of giving us something we want, like an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, we get a better data miner.
  • Basically Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Allo is end to end encrypted and has incognito mode. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But it's another app... Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Well, yeah. Just saying, it does those things that the commenter wants. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sorry lol Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • It sounds as if it is encrypted ONLY when you use Incognito. I'm not interested in that.
  • They clearly stated in the keynote that it was encrypted either way. Incognito mode added message expiration and more. Posted via the Android Central App
  • We don't need another messaging app i thought Google knew this Posted via the Android Central App
  • What about italics though. Is Google against sarcasm? I'm tired of having to tell folks I'm joking &I'm not dropping lol after all my funny. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No. Please just un-**** Hangouts. I don't want another competing messaging app, especially one that apparently goes out of its way to infantalize communication.
  • Google I/O - Where Google brings more fragmentation to their product line each year in the name cool new stuff!!#@!
  • they just need to combined all there messaging apps into Allo and call it a day. and have E2E encryption by default.
  • What's wrong with sms. Messaging apps, everyone of them, are just wasted space on the phone imo. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I sent my reply to this comment as a picture via MMS, it should be with you sometime tomorrow... maybe. Posted via the Android Central App
  • accidentally reported this. it should confirm it first lol
  • Are you kidding? SMS is so insanely limited with what you can do with it. You can see if someone has seen your message, and at what time. You can integrate video calling into one app. It makes messaging super easy when you've got wifi but no cell service. The list goes on and on
  • SMS/MMS is antiquated tech that needs to go away.
  • Nothing wrong with sms if all you want to send is text and emoji, works for me for easy communication. Also doesn't need a data connection just a phone signal. Sometimes the simple things are the best:-) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Have you ever seen what MMS does to pictures. Posted via the Android Central App
  • EMU purchase finally realized after two years
  • So, can I sms with this?
  • This is basically Google's answer to iMessenger and Facetime. Looking forward to Allo & Duo.
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you someone has to install another app to talk then its DOA. It has to function and be as seamless as iMessage
  • The WhatsApp killer is here!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Allo. Allo.
    I shal say zeees oanlee wunnss! (UK sitcom 1980's)
  • I remember this! Posted via the Android Central App
  • My mind made the same association when I saw the name :) Wonder whether there will be an Officer Crabtree reply mode. You already mentioned an obvious caption for the Incognito mode button.
  • LOL
  • Anytime anything about messaging is announced, and the phrase "Google Voice" isn't invoked, I know it isn't going to work for me.
  • Why is this not built into Hangouts? WHY ARE WE HAVING 6 MESSAGING APPS?!
  • Before Google I/O everybody was clamoring for a replacement to the abysmal Hangouts app. After Google I/O everybody is screaming bloody murder for doing exactly that, with cries of "WTF! Another new messaging app?" Personally, I see Allo as Google's first real attempt at a decent messaging app. Which is looong overdue. Posted via the Android Central App
  • From what I see everyone wanted to see Hangouts actually updated and fixed. Not the announcement of yet another messaging app. Posted via Android Central App
  • Popular opinion always seemed to be"Hangouts stinks, replace it". Which as it turns out is as it should be. The Hangouts design is so bad that it's not conducive to incorporating additions. It needs to be scrapped altogether. To do that though, a replacement needs to be in place to take over. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I couldn't agree less with this... I honestly do not understand what people want in another app. I don't care about fonts or "humanizing" or any of that garbage. Just make something that's not clunky and does what it's supposed to. At this point I would even say hangouts works just fine for me. GV integration works fine, I can use it on my desktop, DONE.
  • Yes indeed it is BUT the thing is its another app for messenging. With Duo its another video chat app. Hangouts pretty much already does both of these BUT in ONE app. I'm not saying that they're bad because they're aren't. They look nice BUT, it should've either been integrating in one app to keep it organized OR this should've been integrated INTO Hangouts. Maybe even CHANGE THE NAME OF HANGOUTS to improve the brand or something. #TeamFrosty Nexus 6P
  • A "one app rules them all" mentality has its drawbacks. Modular has its advantages. Especially when considering development updates. Hangouts needed to be scrapped. It was just poorly built from the ground up. With the new apps, each can be improved upon independent of each other. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Requiring apps to have complementary apps in order to have full functionality is also a drawback. An all-in-one app makes more sense to me than requiring multiple apps to do the same thing. As for Hangouts, if you are constantly abandoning apps and making new replacement apps it seriously harms your user base and damages your reputation. What incentive do users have for going through the hassle of adopting this app when the track record shows that development could be abandoned 2 or 3 years down the line. Hangouts already has a user base, it would make more sense to just improve it, even if it needs to be from the ground up and with a new name. Posted via Android Central App
  • That's just it though. There's no requirement for multiple apps being required. They're optional. Google is going for a modular concept. Allo doesn't require Duo. Duo is optional for those users who want it, but not forced upon those who'd never use it. Updates to either doesn't affect the other. Sure there's a perceived track record that a lot of people like to pounce on, but at the same time there have been products that DO work and succeed. The perception is dependent upon whether you're a pessimist or an optimist. Google has had successful products as well as failed products. pre judgement usually identifies which. And in this case, Google seems to have built a pretty kick-ass messenger. Yet the popular response is to shoot it down rather than make even minor attempts to promote it. Cuz "that's the thing to do with any Google announcement". Posted via the Android Central App
  • The problem when any new messaging/social app arrives is that it starts with zero user base. Without getting lots of users on board early Allo will be dead in the water. I have no need for anything beyond sms (which everyone has access to) , WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is almost same thing as Microsoft did with their skype by intergrading Cortana. So it is not an innovation.
  • It's not like Cortana and Skype. You're just going around to various articles to say that Google is copying Microsoft. No tech is truly innovating at this point, and rarely is an idea or concept original. Go troll somewhere else.
  • You are saying I am giving fake News Haha.. If you want proof go and see Microsoft build 2016 https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2016?wt.mc_id=build2016_bingIA it is not a fake Articles it is official Microsoft Website. I accept I am a Microsoft Fan-Boy but At first I am Tech Lover I will see all Conference, Events including apple (which is the company I Hate very much)
  • How would this work on IOS? Do you think it would work with iMessage and etc?
  • No. It will be independent, like hangouts for iOS. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How would it remotely work with iMessage? That's Apple's proprietary IM service. If Google somehow had the ability to use iMessage, wouldn't you think it would of already been on Android? It's a standalone app, and a standalone service. It has no integration with iOS other than it being an application that you download from the App Store.
  • Why not integrate Allo and Duo, revitalize it as Hangouts successor? Or why not integrate Allo and Duo into Hangouts and revitalize that brand name? Seriously Google... #TeamFrosty Nexus 6P
  • Hangouts needed to be scrapped. It was just simply poor design from the ground up. I don't mind duo being separate from Allo, as that allows the two aspects to be updated independently from each other. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You keep stating it was poorly built from the ground up. I haven't had access to the code or underlying architecture to disagree. Could you state how you arrived at this conclusion? What is poorly built? Why couldn't the hangouts architecture be changed/improved?
  • Or better yet, why not integrate Allo, Duo, Spaces, and YouTube messaging? They could call it something like 'google+' Posted via the Android Central App
  • They don't need to be integrated into one app. They need only to complement each other. That way each aspect can be improved/updated independently. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No. Both are communication features and must be a swipe away from each other. Or better yet, integrated into Android similar to "default messaging app" or "default launcher".
  • And I agree that Hangouts seems to be a collection of poorly integrated features but it's no excuse for a talented company like Google
  • What's app is the best messaging app, how does this compare? dreaming of electric sheep
  • It's better. But WhatsApp has a billion users. So WhatsApp wins. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can't wait to try it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Likewise! I have no beefs with Hangouts or Messenger. However, I'm always open, to trying new apps, especially ones promising to make communication more seamless. Posted via my Gift from God Nexus 5X/Nexus 6 with Project Fi
  • DJ Khaled business model... Another one... Probably won't play nice with Google Voice.
  • This is my biggest worry. I have yet to hear anything about whether it will work with GV. Since my GV number is now Project Fi, I cannot imagine how it could NOT. That is the only number for that phone.And it is Google's service. How could it not be available? But then does that mean I could download and use my number on other phones I own? So many unanswered questions. I waited so long and patiently for GV to integrate with Hangouts and now that everything is working great across all my devices, Google wants me to change messaging apps? Ugh...
  • Google. Stop it. Posted from Nexus 6 running Android N
  • Shouldn't this and Duo be rolled into a single app? Doesn't that make more sense? I'm always down to try something new, but I think this is going to be a head-scratcher for a while. I'll definitely be using it, but whether or not it will catch on remains to be seen. R.I.P GPe program
  • Jeezus, almost everyone is so negative. If you're so unhappy, get an iPhone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I doubt everyone here is going to an iPhone over a messaging app that may inevitably be released on iOS. R.I.P GPe program
  • Or, you know, not. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is this going to allow us to send full file size photos and lightly compressed videos like iMessage? I hate how much Hangouts compresses videos!
  • I like to message people. I don't need some interfering damn software watching me, just dying to tell me about some damn Italian restaurant or special on butt plugs at my local "adult" store. I'm an grown ass man, I can make my own arrangements. Soon, no one will be capable of wiping their own nose, or driving a vehicle. Technology is making you useless, people. I refuse to play ball with our new Overlords. Unlocked Marshmallow Nexus 6 on Verizon. I'm a happy guy.
  • Well dont use it then we like it lol
  • So it's based on my "phone number" - which one? I use Hangouts because I SMS everyone via my Google Voice number, which is the number everyone knows, and not my carrier number, which no one knows (even I have to look it up). So I can tell it to use my GV number and not my carrier number, right? (Cause I can't do that with Google Messenger ...)
  • This is my biggest worry. I have yet to hear anything about whether it will work with GV. Since my GV number is now Project Fi, I cannot imagine how it could NOT. That is the only number for that phone.And it is Google's service. How could it not be available? But then does that mean I could download and use my number on other phones I own? So many unanswered questions. I waited so long and patiently for GV to integrate with Hangouts and now that everything is working great across all my devices, Google wants me to change messaging apps? Ugh...
  • Yeah now that they finally have MMS working correctly in Hangouts for GV numbers it's been fantastic, covers every option I need. It's fine if they wand to create something new like Allo as long as it doesn't screw up what I have working now :)
  • SOOOO - its Telegram + Whatsapp + Glide + Snapchat all together ... nite :)