Allo Messenger is a big deal for Google's mobile-first strategy

Google Allo
Google Allo (Image credit: Android Central)

In recent years, Google has released no fewer than eight ways to communicate with friends and family. From the heady, Jabber-powered simplicity of Google Talk to the bulging interior of Google+ Messenger to the most recent volley, Hangouts, to say Google has struggled to capture market share in the effervescent messaging space is an understatement.

These days, Talk is no more, and Google+ Messenger was rolled into Hangouts in 2013. With the announcement of Allo, Google's newest artificial intelligence-powered chat app, it would seem that the company struggling to connect with with consumers in this increasingly-lucrative space is once again poised to be outplayed by the incumbents, names like WhatsApp and Line and WeChat.

Indeed, Google's tenacity in returning to messaging is remarkable given its poor track record. Allo, even with a sufficient tally of unique features, appears to be little more than a showcase for the Google Assistant, a confluence of research into artificial intelligence and machine learning that coalesces into a bot available to the user at any time.

Minimizing Allo's potential impact on the market is shortsighted given Google's newfound approach to app development.

But minimizing Allo's potential impact on the market is shortsighted given Google's newfound approach to app development. Not only was it announced alongside an ultra-simple but technologically advanced video app, Duo, but Allo is proudly mobile-only — Android and iOS, specifically — and uses a customer's phone number for authentication. In that way, it picks up some of what makes WhatsApp so compelling, along with pieces from others like Facebook Messenger (bots), Telegram (Incognito Mode), Signal (end-to-end encryption), and Snapchat (doodles, timed messages).

Breaking down those individual components, it's plain why Google built Allo, keeping it separate from Hangouts. First, the app doesn't require a Google account, which cleans the slate for mobile users who still have a metallic taste in their mouths from the forced linking of Google+ to other services on the company's platform. While users will benefit from pairing their Google accounts with Allo, by giving the bot more context about their likes and dislikes (and their previous searches), the linking the two is neither necessary nor intrinsic to getting use from the assistant.

Google I/O 2016

Relying on a phone number for authentication over a Google account further restricts and focuses the app: a single point of entry, and no desktop mode. Unlike Hangouts, which subsumed Talk, which was built into Gmail on the web, Allo will always be mobile-first, a hugely important tenet of the success of both WhatsApp and Instagram — both owned by Google competitor Facebook — along with Snapchat, the ultimate mobile-only messenger. (Yes, WhatsApp has since grown to have desktop apps, but they are still directly linked to a single-instance mobile device. You can't sign up for WhatsApp from the web.)

Allo gives Google a way to experiment with features without worrying about reaching parity on the web.

This unbundling of Google's primary messaging platform allows Allo to scale across mobile in ways that Hangouts never could. It also gives Google a way to experiment with features without worrying about reaching parity on the web, a rising tension among messaging startups. Google, unlike many of its competitors, has leeway to make these decisions, given its existing product lineup. Don't want to use Allo? Hangouts isn't going anywhere.

It's also no accident that Allo is the Google assistant's first host: a messenger app allows the company to be nimble and imperfect, allowing the tool to grow within its confines, rather than represent the bulk of the opportunity, like Google Home, the company's speaker-cum-voice-companion. Google Assistant is at the heart of what the company hopes is its next salvo in continuing to dominate search, which is inevitably turning into something more contextual and mobile. It's one thing for Google's in-app bot to be able to identify clams in a photo of a bowl of seafood linguine; it's another to use that information to make it useful in helping people make better decisions about where to eat, how to get there, and how to pay for it.

Of course, no number of features and amount of finesse will guarantee Google a place at the messaging table, increasingly dominated by Facebook and Snapchat in the West, and Line and WeChat in the East. But Google has to try, and in trying has to set itself up to iterate quickly should it fail. None of its previous messaging concerns have been mobile enough, in the canonical sense, to properly compete with the incumbents, and there is good chance Allo is too late to the game to make an impact. But whereas Facebook's past messaging app failures — who remembers Poke, or Slingshot?— have long been forgiven as they're forgotten, people tend to hold onto Google's duds, because they feel almost like betrayals.

The truth is that Allo may very well be inconsequential, a blip on Google's, and our, radar in its grand platform strategy. But its core tenets — data-gathering, bots, and a mobile-first approach — will not be. Those unequivocally represent Google's future, and will impact as many people as use the internet today. It is in this context that Allo should be viewed, not as a short-term mistake, but as a long-term bet on mobile.

More: Unified messaging is a joke, and it probably always will be

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

  • So now Google needs to get rid of Hangouts etc. Otherwise this will go nowhere and be shut down later on as there are already too many messaging projects. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They need to aggregate everything into one app. I don't understand why each new feature needs a new app.
  • Luke.....i am your father.....
  • Time for some alimony payments
  • Hangouts is fantastic. What they should've done is put these new features inside Hangouts.
  • Hangouts has a lot going for it, but the more you use it, the more you realize that it's a giant mess. Especially if you use it for voice calling and/or group messaging. A lot of it has to do with Google's baffling failure at contacts management. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Perfect comment. How can Hangouts lose against Skype when they lead with free multipoint audio and video calls? Because so many can't figure out how to gain access to them, so they just give up. On free, high-quality comms. The Android Hangouts is a s***show. Nice, until you have to wrestle with sending an SMS to someone new. "Would you like to recruit Bob to Google Hangouts?" No, I just want to send a freaking SMS, and this is the 18th time I've tried, and it's still a pain in the ass. That whole team should be fired, and if Allo doesn't get it right nobody will come back to Google messaging until Facebook has filed Chapter 7.
  • Well said with regards to the contacts. Drives me nuts that I will have someone in my contacts and yet they don't show up when I try to MMS. So I have to "Create" another contact...where...I'm not even sure.
  • I went all in to Hangouts on 2 separate occasions and left empty handed both times. Contacts/merge is a mess. Video calling worked fine, but there just weren't enough people using it.
  • The best part of hangouts is that it works on tablet, phone and desktop. If the article is true and it will only work on mobile it's already a downgrade.
  • Unless the contacts system works. Then it's a homerun.
  • Mobile is really all that matters in this messaging space. And remember, you'll be able to run it from Chrome OS desktop soon too, and it wouldn't shock me if at this time next year you'll be able to run it from all Chrome desktop on every platform. As Jerry said in the podcast this week, he bets that "2 minutes" after Android for Chrome OS is turned on, someone will hack it for desktop as well.iiari Posted via the Android Central App
  • Maybe to you and chrome os users that will be fine but for the rest of us that would still be a downgrade.
  • EXACTLY! I can seamlessly move from my phone to my computer and back again without missing a message. And I love that Hangouts recognize this and changes where the notifications go. First message received goes to all devices, after that.. only the one that im using. Brilliant. I don't understand all the hate towards Hangouts. I have used it for years and never had an issue.
  • So if you start a conversation in hangouts and move to a different device you lose the thread of the conversation? That doesn't make much sense to me, surely it would be better to keep the whole conversation on all devices. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Uchinan is talking about the notification, not the messages in the thread itself. The complete history of a thread is available on all devices.
  • No,i use hangouts all the time. I'm pretty sure Allo won't let me text from both carrier and Google Voice numbers nor will I be able to use it for visual voicemail. I also love the fact that I can continue a conversation from the computer to the phone and vice versa.
  • Remember ... these are US only ... google has way more customers in other countries
  • This is meant to be a simple messaging app, not a more complicated bloated all in one app Posted via the Android Central App
  • The messaging platform lock in is a huge deal. My wife is totally locked into iOS because of others like her mom that use an iPhone. They barely know how to use imessage/FaceTime. No way would they ever use another OS because of this. Carrier advanced messaging is a decent start, but Allo will be just like all 3rd party services. People won't want "yet another" app and standard. To most people, text/imessage is all that exists. I got the wife to use WhatsApp but she is my only contact. I got tired of grainy photos/videos via SMS and I won't use iOS. Oh well, one day there will be something that talks with imessage. Hate it all you want but it's really the standard that people are very loyal to. I'm sure someone from India or some non US place will chime in that every man woman and child uses WhatsApp, but not in the US. iMessage and text are king. Maybe FB messenger but I like my battery life so not for me.
  • "I'm sure someone from India or some non US place will chime in that every man woman and child uses WhatsApp" Not just India but EVERY place outside of the States. And they really do...
  • I hate to be "that guy". But you just quoted his sentence and in it, it says every non US place...
    Just saying Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • No they don't.
  • Maybe not everybody, but a whole lot. It's like a billion. Every single person I know who is either from somewhere else in the world or who does a lot of communicating with others around the world uses WhatApp almost exclusively. I had to install it just to be able to communicate with those folks (which is how these services spread virally). Posted via the Android Central App
  • "I had to install it just to be able to communicate with those folks" this is the problem for me with WhatsApp. People who've made the plunge a while back and are fully vested in the application now can surely hail it as "the one" but for those who have to start out and whos contacts are not on the app it's an uphill battle to get there. I often have issues with receiving MMS messages from people and communicating in group conversations. I used to think that it was an iOS to Android thing but one family member switched to an iPhone from her Android one and I still have issues receiving her texts if she includes me in a group. None of these troublesome contacts are on WhatsApp (I have the app, nobody I know who i frequently text use it) and I highly doubt that I have the power to not only convince them but to get them to convince their own contacts as well to switch too.
  • WhatsApp is most popular global messenger service with bilion active users . Why US people act like US is the only country in the world ? Google offers their services globally . You can't say that "to most people, text is all that exists. " when numbers show different thing.
  • I wasn't aware I said the US is the only country in the world. I happen to live here and I happen to think if you surveyed 100k people, 2% would say they use WhatsApp as their primary messaging platform. Its just not that popular here, sorry about that.
  • I didn't said that you said that US is the only country in the world, but that you act like that. You said "People won't want "yet another" app and standard" than "to most people, text/imessage is all that exists" and then " Oh well, one day there will be something that talks with imessage. Hate it all you want but it's really the standard that people are very loyal to." . You are complain that Google made Allo and than you are saying that no one needs that because most use sms . So according to you Allo is useless just because people in US use sms. It turns out there are more users for Google outside US than in US , imessage and Whatsapp are perfect examples for that .
  • I'm on trial. Fun! All I know is I'll use Allo and I'll probably love Allo. I also know when I ask everyone I know to switch to Allo instead of imessage or something else, they will give me a deadpan stare in return. Just not gonna happen. Guess I need new friends. My messages will stay green and IDGAF.
  • Your friends would be right, Apple won't kill of imessage anytime soon whereas allo will be replaced in less than two years most likely. Consistency is a facade at Google, sorry guys. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I think consistently inconsistent would be a better description.
  • I'll be your new friend.
  • I need friends....
  • And probably that will happen with any other chat app not just Allo, even with most popular chat app in the world called Whatsapp. US usage not measurement does some product is successful or not , Whatsapp is real world example about that.
  • Maybe because unless you're from only a few countries, few people on earth recognize the massive scale of the United States. Our States alone are the size of many countries. So while the US isn't the only nation on earth (duh), it's definitely one of the most important. And it's where Google is based, which is the primary subject of this entire topic. Posted from my Nexus 6.
  • Yeah there are more users outside the US, but who do you think they care about more ad far as these services go? There's a reason why we get most of the services first. It's their home area. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sadly you are fairly correct.
    Google is a global company that acts really local when it comes to providing services for their users.
    Clearly there's room for I improvement here.
  • The US is much more diverse. With many different nationalities and over 300 million people, it's easier to start here to see if it takes off. Why spend millions to make 10 different versions for it to bomb when they can spend millions less and make one version.....for testing.
  • Yeah, everyone forgets we are the most diverse in the world. Good points. Posted from Nexus 6 running Android N
  • I use Google messenger ...and it communicates with imessage.... Posted via Serenity
  • Via SMS. Which doesn't count. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why does it not count? My messages show up green, not blue, no delivery confirmation (or optional read receipt), but it works.
    I seriously am asking why it doesn't count, my wife makes the same complaint, but cannot tell me why my messages need to be blue, not green.
  • No it doesn't.
  • How do they not know how to use iMessage? If you have an iPhone and are signed into it with your iCloud login and you open the Messages app, you're using iMessage. It's pretty damn near seamless.
  • Some have even said that the dominance of iMessage here is a reason that messaging in the US isn't advancing compared to the rest of the world. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Preach it, brother! Getting people to try a new messaging app is like getting people to change political affiliation. I've been trying to get my Apple friends to try WhatsApp, or BBM, or Hangouts or SOMETHING, but no, I'm stuck texting them. It's such a pain. These are technically savvy people, and still they won't change. I managed to get my family on WhatsApp, and now they can see the utility, but it wasn't easy!! Weeks of pushing and prodding. I just don't see the problem with trying something new. Posted via the Android Central App with a Nexus 6
  • I use WhatsApp because we're a Google family and it was the best option when we switched from Blackberry. Prior to that we liked Blackberry Messenger #neverapple. :)
  • Look Mom another messaging app. Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • I still think they have more messaging apps than what is considered necessary. Either completely kill off all the old ones or roll them into a single app. The latter would be the better option IMHO.
  • Agreed. I was just saying this same thing to a friend, earlier today.
  • I really don't see 'mobile only' as a positive. Sure it's the most important part, but when competing platforms like imessage and Facebook messager are cross device, how is being phone only going to draw people away from them? It's a big enough challenge already, why make it harder? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Bingo. I would imagine a primary draw if non-SMS services is the ability to use it on multiple devices.
  • Agreed completely, from where I'm sitting Allo has taken a whole bunch of features from the competition while ignoring the basics. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good article. Hopefully Allo is the start to some awesome messaging in the future that is both simply and feature rich. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Personally, I do not need another messaging application, I need Messenger to give me the ability to send sms messages from my Google Voice number. I do not profess to understand business, but I guess Google sees Allo as a potential revenue stream, good on them if it works, but it seems that people seem to prefer other companies when it comes to messaging/social.
  • That's what Hangouts is for.
  • Which most of us agree sucks... I really wish I could use another messaging app besides hangouts. Technically, you can, but it is a royal PITA.
  • Actually most people love Hangouts.
  • They really don't though, I'd imagine it's adoption is laughable compared to something like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Except that they do.
  • No they don't. It's average at best. luvin my s7 edge
  • Hangouts is horrible. I don't know anyone that uses it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think it's great. My friends use it, and I use it. I chat with them on my phone. I chat with them on my work computer via Trillian. I chat with them on my home computers via Does everything I could ever want a messaging app to do.
  • Just save your money Google and strike a deal with Apple to bring iMessage to Android. You'll never beat WhatsApp or even the next few IM apps anyway Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't think there's any amount of money Google could offer Apple to make that happen. imessage is one of the central pillars supporting iOS, take away that exclusivity and it weakens the platform. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That'll never happen. iMessage and FaceTime are iOS' killer apps. If you could get one or both of those on a phone that costs a few hundred bucks less than an iPhone, Apple's device sales would drop in a way that would hurt their bottom line a lot more than any deal Google's willing to make would help it.
  • There is literally nothing special about iMessage. It doesn't do anything any other service hasn't done now or in the past. It was just Apple domination that drove the user base. Someone just needs to come up with an angle to create the next new thing and I can bury iMessage. Allow isn't even close to being it though. luvin my s7 edge
  • How feature-rich iMessage is compared to other messaging clients doesn't matter. It works well, and people who use it like it a lot and aren't willing to give it up. Its exclusivity keeps people from wanting to jump ship from the iOS/OS X ecosystem, and that makes it too valuable a commodity for Apple to ever be willing to release it for competing platforms.
  • Yup and the fact that it works so well and so reliably is the single thing that often compells me to want to switch back to iOS. I just can't get myself to do it because I love my rooted Android devices too darned much. .. but you can bet that every time I have issues receiving group texts from friends/family that thought that I should just give up and switch comes screaming back again.
  • Nice to some positive article about Google from Daniel !!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • You speak speaker - ***...ahahah Posted via the Android Central App
  • C U M Posted via the Android Central App
  • Um... Hangouts IS the messenger from Google+ there never was a "Google+ Messenger".
  • There use to be an app on your phone called "Google+ Messenger". It was before Hangouts was a thing. It was awful and it was still kicking on phones even when hangouts was released. They rolled them into each other later down the road.
  • You're totally right, I was thinking about Hangouts being built into G+ on the web, forgot they made that app for a short while before renaming it.
  • Nope.
  • Yeah well Google voice was a big deal, hangouts was a big deal and now allo is a big deal. Google, piss or get off the pot. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Now the question that is on everybody's mind is that pot, in a gender-neutral bathroom. Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • Just go to Target with your Holy Bible.
  • So you assuming I'm a Christian interesting..... my husband is I am an atheist but thanks for playing. Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • Tandy? Really? Lol. Now that's funny. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol! +1
  • Lets leave the pot outside of the bathroom.
    Make things really interesting. Posted from Nexus 6 running Android N
  • Yes. I like where you're headed with this... Posted via the Android Central App
  • What? Are you saying we shouldn't get stoned while dropping a deuce? Lol! Just kidding!
  • Why not? Must be the libertarian coming out in me. It's a free for all. Do anything you want. Lol I do not use any of these messaging apps or services , never really have. I'm old school. Maybe I need more friends. Posted from Nexus 6 running Android N
  • Same here. I use what's on the phone. I talk to family (non-techie), a few co-workers (non-techie), and a few friends. But we are all older and don't care for emojis, stickers, animated crap, or anything that distracts from getting our communications across.
  • And speaking of Google Voice, I hope that a GV number can be used to authenticate Allo, because no one has my carrier number in their contacts list. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I guess I am the only one that is going to try Allo and Duo when they come out. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll install it. But whether I'll have anyone except bots to talk to remains to be seen. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll give it a go as well, but i can't trust Google to support the services I use on the daily anymore, except YouTube and Gmail. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Pretty much in the same place. Google support on the majority of their apps (next big thing) disappear Like a cake in fat camp. Sent via Tandy Color Computer
    before you see the light, you have to deal with the darkness
  • Haha yep Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • The only services I feel Google is loyal to are Maps, Gmail, Chrome and YouTube. and most likely Google Drive.
  • And play services and Google Now Posted via the Android Central App
  • Add web search and Maps to that list, and I agree.
  • Would be amusing if everyone here in the comments agreed to "friend" each other in Allo. We could all test it together. I can see the messages now. "So Zebra does this suck or do we like it? So far the only people we communicate with are strangers from AC" That might not be so bad if you could share drinks using the app. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Good points!
  • Agree . . I'll try it and it will end up like WhatsApp for me - yet another messaging app sitting in the background that nobody ever tries to communicate with me on. In the end I'll still end up primarily using SMS/MMS.
  • In my opinion this needs to be baked into the native messaging app so every Android phone would have this. Add an iOS app and then you can have a really significant move into iMessage territory for Android users and incentive for iOS folks to use it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree, that's what it would take for it to catch on... that and Samsung agreeing to use that default app and not make their own... and regulators not filing antitrust cases against google because of it... All 3 of those things seem unlikely unfortunately. Which leaves us with Facebook and Apple owning the messaging market for the foreseeable future. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree. I don't even use Facebook but the messenger program is on point. It really reminds me of AOL IM back in the day. All of my friends and family are on it regardless if they have the app or not. They'll get the message either on their tablet, phone or computer one way or the other. With imessage, it's baked right into IOS. It's perfect and I'm extremely jealous. I don't see how Allo is going to make people use it unless like you said, all three of those unlikely scenarios happens.
  • I get that Apple owns the hardware running its software but it is still lame that iMessage doesn't create antitrust issues while Android taking the same approach on 3rd party devices does. And yes I understand the parallels to Windows (IE) running on 3rd party computers. I just don't have to like it. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • I agree. If google is being investigated, so should Apple. I thought the same during the windows stuff a few years ago. It's like apple gets some free pass on this stuff, and it shouldn't. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Only I think the parallels to Apple aren't so strong as it would seem. Apple isn't truly a dominant player in a market share sense. Yes it is the most profitable but its products and services don't really compete with Google on a global scale (nor Microsoft's for that matter). Apple is more often perceived as simply an alternative. Apple TV instead of Roku or Amazon. Apple Music instead of Spotify or Google Music. An iPhone instead of some other. Apple is always presented as more of choice than Google is. What's sad is Google IS a choice. You CAN live your life Google free even on an Android phone (well nearly you'd still be using its OS). I've read articles that point out that at nearly every turn Android allows you to choose what and how you use your phone. And there ARE other search engines, even on mobile devices. These anti trust cases seem to be based on perception more than facts. Can Google make having Allo as the default messaging app a requirement of using Android? I don't know. I don't think we'll ever know because honestly, that really isn't how Google rolls.
  • I agree but Google doesn't care about desktop users, they don't care to give us good desktop clients whereas apple has mostly nailed answering texts and calls on the desktop. Google needs to stop with this mobile only one platform crap. Scream mobile is the future all you want but people still sit at their desks and work, imagine that. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Well all the news about the Chromebook is kind of desktop related. And then there is the Chrome browser on all those millions of computers. I mean search is still the primary revenue stream (though SO much more is being done from phones and tablets). I'm not disagreeing with you, in fact, my points only bolster yours. Google is certainly not a mobile only company. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Agree 100% Google should follow Apple's lead and make Allo like iMessage. That is, the default messaging app that also handles SMS. If I send someone a message from Allo and they are using Allo, awesome. If they aren't, it just sends them an SMS. Hangouts is a mess how it handles SMS integration. I don't want to have to convince people to download Allo just so I can start using it.
  • Bla Bla Bla.... Just another app in a sea of others, but deep down Facebook will rule the rooster, deal with it and move on Posted via the Android Central App
  • Basically your comment says take the dick in your ass and deal with it. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Lol
  • Yeah. Ok. If you keep telling yourself that, you'll be ok....promise.... /s
  • I'm excited for allo, especially the google assistant tie in. Unfortunately for me without a Web interface it can't replace hangouts and telegram (my 2 chat apps) which means it will only be used for fun not reliable communication. Keeping feature parody on the Web shouldn't be that hard for a company the size of google. Or look at telegram sometime there is feature lag between mobile and Web, and I'm ok with that.
  • Yep. If this is mobile-only, doesn't incorporate SMS, and is tied to your phone number rather than your Google account, no one on iOS is going to use it, which eliminates it as a communication method with about half the people I know. That alone makes it a non-starter for me, I'm afraid. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is there any indication that it will merge SMS? That will be the only way to create wide spread adoption. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I really hope that Allo isn't taking up whatever small resources Hangouts had for new features and updates. I don't like Allo, and I want Google to make Hangouts better.
  • Hangouts and Allo are developed by two separate teams within Google so the only way Hangouts would be affected is if the "higher-ups" feel like it isn't worth working on anymore/they're seeing stronger adoption of Allo than Hangouts.
  • I don't understand what "feature parity" is. Hangouts doesn't have the same features on web, android, or iOS. It still works. I use Hangouts ALL THE TIME to communicate with friends, family, and coworkers. It works on my computers and that's great for me. Some conversations that I have on Hangouts, I would never bother to type them on a phone screen. Also, what are the advanced technologies that Duo has? Cross-platform? Wut? Anything except Facetime is crossplatform. And the reason that's not cross-platform isn't because of incompatible video, it's just Apple doesn't choose to develop an app for Android. Android Central, stop trying to find excuses for Google. What they are doing is simply dumb.
  • Exactly. The fact that I can seamlessly hand off between my Nexus 6P, my Shield Tablet, my Chromebook, and my work windows laptop during a conversation is the only reason that I put up with Hangouts' frustrating deficiencies. I only video chat with my girlfriend, my mom, and a small handful of old college friends, so if Duo works well, I'm sure it'll be easy enough to get those few people on board with it, but I have a hard time seeing Allo catching on.
  • All this, yes, exactly. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • If this handles regular text messages as well as the fun Allo specific stuff I'll use it and be able to get some friends and family to use it but if it's a standalone messenger like WhatsApp it will be a no go. I tried to get people I know to use WA but they just refused to because they didn't want to have two different apps. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I completely agree. Hopefully it won't end up being like WhatsApp though Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't see it taking off. People have other platforms they're happy with.
  • That's another problem. People aren't saying "god damn it, I hate iMessage, I wish there were an alternative" people like it. They aren't looking for an alternative. I think most people who use it like Facebook messager, but that's less certain. People don't like Skype or hangouts, people complain about them a lot. So those things can absolutely be replaced if the right service came along. Maybe that's the only aim of Allo and Duo, but it doesn't sound like it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'll just stick to SMS - it's universal, cross-platform, comes standard with every phone, no frills, no gimmicks, etc... etc... etc...
  • But not unlimited in most countries, unlike data.
  • From what I've experienced, data us far more expensive than SMS. Even when traveling, SMS is cheaper, and you know your coworkers / travel partners will have it on their phones.
  • For the U.S., sms is virtually unlimited for all modern plans. Within the U.S., messaging apps like allo are a Non starter. Posted via the Android Central App
  • SAme here. It just works and I don't have to get anyone to sign up for it or use the right app.
  • Yawn. Google is just throwing anything at the wall, and seeing what sticks. Here's another app that does the same things as all the other ones, but this one is "different". Ok.
  • BBM FTW Posted via the Android Central App
  • But BBM needs to go back to allowing SMS chats as well like it did on bbos. luvin my s7 edge
  • Why do we need SMS when there's unlimited data?
  • My contract is the opposite, unlimited texts but limited data. Therefore sms is better for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I used Hangouts knowing it wasn't the most polished, snappiest or had the most friendly user interface; for God's sake most users don't know you can Hangout with more than one and it's an adventure renaming a Hangout let alone there's no way to search for a hangout name or pin some as y our favorites or even take out someone who joined your hangout!! Horrible in many aspects.. BUT, it worked seamlessly on any device, audio, video, live streaming, SMS google voice, SMS regular phone, screen sharing on desktop, multiple accounts VOIP, cloud based info you'll never lose ..etc.. The most mature back-end infrastructure by Far.. Why didn't they invest in this, revamp / refactor their UI and embed the cool features of Allo and Video calling optimization to Hangouts!! They're fragmenting and giving away they few features that set them apart and got us sticking with their half baked product. Cool stuff in Allo and Duo, but super disappointing that Google decided not to invest in Hangouts!!!
  • Exactly. They could make everyone happy in one perfect app. No they shot themselves in the foot.
  • I can't wait
    Give it to me now
  • Would you like some lube first, sir?
  • She came already.
  • That quick? Dayum....
  • I signed up for the beta test. All I'm looking for is a good sms messaging app. Full featured. Having Allo being integrated into the operating system a good Idea...? I don't know. Right now I'm using Textra. I don't use Facebook or Hangouts. The later just didn't have what I want. To be honest, it kind of bothers me with coworkers at work using Facebook. My Goodness. Some people just want to sit and BS the whole day away. He said - she said. My Goodness. Give me a good messaging app. Full featured app, automatically compresses images etc etc. Actually one that I can respond by voice while in in the car and automatically close when I'm done sending the reply or the original message. Yep. That would do it for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do u sign up for the beta test? Posted via the Android Central App
  • There is no beta test. All you can do is "pre-register" for it. Nobody has it yet because it's not out, beta or otherwise.
  • I am pre registered. Was just asking cause they said they signed up for the beta. Didn't know if there was something I was missing Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nope - I miss spoke. Beta came out instead of saying pre registered. Or miss communicated... My bad. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Let that be a lesson to ya! :)
  • I thought allo did not do SMS , only data messaging with others who use allo? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ive pre -register for some reason i cant wait for this.......want a simplistic App for SMS / MMS .....does the other person have to have it also???
  • Google has a LOT of work to do before I trust them with yet another messaging app. Hangouts was supposed to be the big one, and it's not, and now we're stuck with fifty-two doing various messaging apps from Google. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is better than hangouts though.
  • You don't know that Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I was skeptical of another messaging app from Google from the start and now seeing it's basically mobile only! I spend a significant amount of time in front of a PC at work and home so no desktop support makes it a no go for me.
  • hopefully they will integrate into chrome also, id like that option to.
  • No!!! A real desktop app...
  • I'll stick to Telegram and Wire. Wire has better call quality and Telegram is just faster and both are completely cross-platform compatible. I do use Hangouts still but it's only with people who still use the platform back when I used the platform heavily.
  • Do your contacts need to have telegram and wire installed to message them, or does it work with sms? Posted via the Android Central App
  • My concern with Allo is a web client. I like Hangouts because it is cross platform and I can message from my PC, tablet or phone. I hope that Allo is capable of this as well. I haven't really seen any info in this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No, Allo is phone only. A limited version of Hangouts. Useless.
  • You don't think there will be a way to mirror your phone conversations onto a desktop? I mean you can do it on the Chromebooks this fall using the Android app. Maybe the conversation will be initiated on the desktop, instructing the phone to send the message. That isn't hard to do at all. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I am beginning to see the bigger picture here. I think sometimes we get caught up thinking of our own specific use cases. As the author noted Google is betting on mobile first. Globally speaking, there will be millions more mobile phones (and numbers) than laptops or desktops or any other devices, barring some new technology, especially in places that are coming online for the first time. Ultimately, Google just wants us to use their services vs someone else's regardless of how many different ones they offer. I do believe they could scale back to 2 or 3 but they have time for that later. They are losing to Facebook and Apple now as the world is coming online and if they do not get something to take hold they could lose out in the same way a third OS just cannot gain traction in the mobile space. I'm surprised no one here has mentioned, author included, that Android apps will be coming to Chrome OS, their other low cost OS that has huge potential for growth across the globe. They will be well positioned to expand Allo and Duo if they decide to do so in the future. They are beginning to piece together this vast ecosystem. Sure, it sucks that some services are being left behind but Allo and Duo sound like they have potential. While I doubt it will be a finished product come release time, these apps appear to be a major investment in the long term. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why can't we have a finished product though???? Are you starting to see the problem Google has? Nothing is finished. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I've been saying this for years. But you are correct!
  • In this industry everything changes so rapidly, nothing is ever a finished product. I think the only reason Apple and Facebook succeed with their messenger apps is because of their ecosystem lock in. Apple created their walled garden with desirability and simplicity and their two models a year are easy to keep compatibility with. Facebook is the largest social network on the planet that no one has come close to supplanting yet, therefore their messenger is along for the ride as well. I totally understand where people are coming from. It can be frustrating. I use hangouts for my Google Voice number and Google's messenger for my SMS. I'll try out Allo as well. But Android is about choice and diversification and with how widespread it is, it can't be easy to develop one app that everyone will use. I hope they are determining which of their services are best at what and scale down and combine the rest to 2 or 3. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ding, Ding DIng! You nailed it. This guy gets it. Get mobile going first. Most people, especially in developing nations only have their mobile phone. Get mobile right first to get adoption. Work on the other bits later once their is huge adoption (SMS integration, desktop platform).
  • So we're saying it's a failed product already??! I think it has great potential - hopefully it'll be a genuine alternative to WhatsApp! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hangouts is already an alternative to WhatsApp.
  • There are lots of alternatives to WhatsApp. The problem is people don't use them. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Okay I am a fan and user of Google Apps. Right now I use three apps to communicate digitally with others, two of them are Google Apps (Textra, Gmail and Hangouts). I have four good friends (one of them a non techie, iPhone user) who use Hangouts almost exclusively to message me. For some reason, we just don't text each other. Well, for the iPhone user it dates back to when she actually had a limited text plan. We got into the habit of using Hangouts and never got out. Just used Hangouts group chat to organize a major league baseball outing. Point is, I use it and so do other people I actually know. For all other digital messages I have Gmail and Textra. Unless Allo takes off like wildfire (i.e. gains a user base among my friends and family of more than 10 people), I'm not going to bother with it. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Allo avery body...this bloody hell of a duo will be a bloody mess.
  • Allo messenger needs to be Google's new texting app, replace the messenger thats on the Nexus phones so this way we have an I-message competitor Posted via the Android Central App
  • Messenger will stay because you need a SMS app for AOSP Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Like Hangouts?
  • Hangouts isn't in aosp Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • And the 2% (or whatever small % it is) of android users that have nexus or stock android phones will probably use it, meanwhile Samsung won't use it, so most android users probably won't either. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yet another app. Couldn't they add features to Hangouts?
  • I honestly think it's beyond the coders ability to do that.
  • I think the key to getting adoption of these new apps to take off is for Google to add them to the list of required apps to be installed with its partners. Either way they will have to push hard to make the public aware of these apps, but it'd be less of an uphill battle if they are already on devices at launch. Hopefully the regulators will not see that as a problem though! Posted via the Android Central App
  • The reason I like Hangouts is that I can use it from my phone, tablet, and desktop/laptop. The main reason I don't like WhatsApp and the likes is because they are tied to my phone number.
  • Does Allo really have end to end encryption? Snowden tweeted that it did not, and to avoid it for now. Either way, I doubt that it will become a standard. Too late to the party. Posted via the Android Central App
  • A communication tool that will be ultimately successful needs to be where your users are. For me I would like it on my phone, tablet and desktop. Facebook messenger is becoming more useful to me because of this. This is exactly what Skype needs going forward, authentication by a phone number. Something everyone has in the address books in the phone and computers. Support Windows and I may use it. As a WhatsApp user, Facebook Messenger and Skype user I'm not sure I need another app. You go where your friends are. We will see how it goes. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google is really losing their way with consistency. I just noticed something called Google Spaces on the Play store. To me this kind of like Hangouts but not? Just like Google messenger and Google + messenger were kind of like Hangouts but not? What about Google news and weather vs Play Newstand? I am still bitter about them screwing up the Picasa services for photo management. Not everyone needs absolutely everything to be Social. First to Google+ then to Google Photos for my beloved Photo Collection and now recently I can finally share a link to photos after they realized everyone's frustration. Don't get me started about needing to publicly log in as myself just to like You Tube video. Hmm... Yet I still stay immersed in the Google ecosystem. I am an adopter of most things google. But no one else around me uses the tools so I can't immerse myself. E.g.. google+, Hangouts, and even Drive. For business I use Google Drive for all my storage but if I have to share something I have to drop it into Dropbox because no one else has a clue how to view my shared files. Rant over.... Sorry This was building for a while. Sent from my LG G4
  • It's seems fairly simple that these are betas of features to be rolled into an all inclusive app to replace what hangouts is. You can't just suddenly toss in new features without the masses losing their minds. Look at the reaction to this, people are saying they know better than Google on the subject. What would they do if drastic changes suddenly just came to existing products? Think about it, Google recently added p2p connection ability for a faster more stable connection for hangouts. Doesn't this seem to fall in line with that? In my opinion it seems to. There is something on the way that will be very good and an imessage like platform that Google is implementing. Just my thoughts.
  • People knock it but when they try it i bet it's oh ahhhh!! i like it...wait and see :P
  • Don't forget KakaoTalk in Korea. Blows all the rest away imo. No chat app will ever invade the death grip it has on the country. It's also perfect in my opinion after using all the others. I just don't think everybody will ever agree on one messaging app to rule them all. I play one game, people want to talk using whatsapp, I play another they want to talk using line, then all my friends use Kakao. It's annoying for sure. I think Google will always be faced with the mantra, "Too little too late" ringing through the halls of their campus.
  • Hmm. It uses a phone number for authentication and rated 3+. How my daughter will use it on her tablet without SIM card?
  • I still keep my iPhone 6s as a back up phone. After the Galaxy S4, I switched to Apple and never looked back - until the Note 5. Now on the Galaxy S7, having experienced Android's "new game", popping my sim back into the iPhone is somewhat painful. However, I will say my only gripe about Android (and the one thing the iOS has over Android is iMessage). I'm so over SMS/MMS. Trying to send videos and gifs that route is a crapshoot nightmare. At least on iPhone, half the people I communicate with using iMessage. Essentially, when Facebook detached their chat into the separate Messenger app, albeit, there was some resistance, but now 99.99% of the people I communicate with use Messenger (because they were forced to start using it and they became acclimated to it). My text app gets very little use, most communication is done via Messenger. And this is ideal for me and my needs. My one gripe (and it's a huge one) is that Facebook still does not allow its Messenger users to opt out of the "Last Active" and "Seen" notices. This is a huge privacy violation and makes me feel like I have no personal space. And virtually everyone I've talked with about it agrees. Sometimes, I don't want to engage in a long, serious text convo with someone. I'd prefer to respond at my leisure. While still being able to feel free to use Messenger to check other chats. However, the Last Seen marker clearly shows users if you're active or how long it's been since you have been active and ultimately ends up with the person noticing that you're "ignoring them" at the moment. I don't even mind the mandatory "Seen" notifications because I can choose to open particular messages at my leisure, but the "Last Seen" garbage really screws the pooch with this situation. I literally have no idea why Facebook has continually ignored users' requests to have an opt-out fo this feature. iMessage and Whatsapp do. As for Allo - ha, good luck, Google. Way too late. The market is oversaturated. The majority of the world uses Whatsapp and almost an equal number of people use Messenger in the USA (only 7% of smartphone users in America use Whatsapp monthly). I've tried to get friends to switch to Whatsapp because of the privacy features, but nobody gives a flying fack. Just like nobody will be switching in mass droves to Allo. Sorry. The GP just doesn't care. Messenger happened to luck out due to the forced move of Facebook users. Right now, the only messaging news that has my interest is the integration of SMS/MMS into Facebook Messenger. There was one article mentioning it coming a few months ago and nothing since. Anything that integrates texting with a good Messaging app has my attention. Something fluid and seamless like iMessage for Android please. That's all I want. Now if Google could find a way to incorporate Allo into an iMessage-esque program, we'd have a winner. Not sure if that's even feasible though. It would have to be baked into the OS and each OEM's personal texting app.
  • I don't see the benefit of it being mobile only and I don't see the benefit of it being tied to a phone number. I think this space will end up being dominated by Facebook. They already own WhatsApp and they have 'Messenger' and the benefit of it is a lot of people have a Facebook account, even if they don't use it.
  • This is targeting emerging markets who mostly use mobile phones as their computing platform. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What Google should do is just dump all of these advanced features, get Google Messenger (since it's leaner) to be able to web chat seamlessly via Google+, and let it go at that for now. Leave messaging out of Hangouts, just keep it for internet voice/video calling. Just keep it a separate app and integrate it with Google Messenger nicely (like having a video call, internet call, and network call icons on the top row, or have these pop out on tapping the contact picture). Then replace the stock SMS app with it. And tell all manufacturers to use it as their stock SMS app. Allow them to reskin it as they want, or add their own online chat service to it, but just keep Google chat in it.
  • I love Google but I thought "Allo" is such a weird name for a messaging app. In my case, I do most telecommunications via (FB) Messenger followed by SMS/iMessage. Messenger has come a long way since I first started using it and also one good thing is, in my country, Facebook provides free data use for FB itself and as well as Messenger (via, so it's actually very convenient to use without even paying/spending something for it. Features are so robust and actually fun, only downside is that it hoards battery juice, hahaha
  • I'm really excited for Allo, but I have no idea who I'm going to talk to. My wife, sure I can convince her, but what about all my iPhone-toting friends? Or even my Android friends? Convincing someone to download an app where you'd be their only contact is a tall order. Maybe I could get my friends to leave GroupMe for group chats, but I'm guessing not. None of this is Google's fault, but it makes me wonder what their plan is to get this app in the hands of the majority. Here's hoping for a really good ad campaign at launch.
  • Targets emerging markets, where low end & midrange OEMs can use it as a default messaging app. Most emerging markets users are mobile only as their computing platform. This isn't really targeting the Western developed world. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It took me years to make some of my friends start using Hangouts lol.
  • There's nothing to stop google from forcing it into being a google+ service later though.
    Given the crimes that microsoft are currently committing with spreading the windows 10 virus, there's nothing to stop other companies from abusing people either.
  • Simplest answer is .. Allo is a competitor to whatsapp. That model of messenger has been proven worldwide (leaving aside the states) to be the most popular and google wants a piece of that pie. No need to use a google login. Your telephone no becomes your ID, install and you are ready to go. Hangouts has its place, so do imessage and others, but as Whatsapp and FB messenger have proven (you can install it with just a ph no too), this is the preferred model.
  • I'm so tired of waiting with no idea when this goddamn app is being released!