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What is Google Allo? The messaging app explained in full

Google Allo is one of many messaging apps that you can download right now for your Android or iOS mobile device. But is Google Allo worth downloading, what are the best Allo features, how does it compare with other popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is it replacing Hangouts and are there any security worries? Here’s everything you need to know about Google Allo, in our comprehensive review.

What is Google Allo?

Google Allo is the new mobile messenger app from the creator of Android, designed to help you stay in touch with your besties. You can send comments, stickers, emoji, doodles and GIFs to anyone else using Allo, as long as you’re ‘friends’ with them, i.e. have their phone number stored in your smartphone.

Is Google Allo replacing Google Hangouts?

No, Google has officially stated that Hangouts won’t be getting the axe now that Allo has arrived on the scene. After all, a huge number of people are currently using Hangouts and might not make the jump to Allo for some time, since it’s such a new prospect. The last thing Google wants to do is annoy a large part of its fanbase by cutting support for its existing messaging app.

Can I use Google Allo on my Android phone/Apple iPhone?

Yes, Google Allo is available to download right now for both Android phones (via Google Play) and iOS devices (through Apple’s App Store). It’s free to download and use.

What are the best Google Allo features?

Smart Reply is Google Allo’s biggest and best new feature, setting it apart from the likes of Hangouts. This is essentially an AI bot – Google’s ‘Assistant’ – which monitors your conversation and suggests instant one-tap replies to any messages you get. On one hand, this is a great way to quickly respond to people on the fly, when you’re very short of time. On the other hand, it’s also incredibly lazy and makes conversation quite impersonal if used a lot.

Like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Google Allo lets you know when your message has been delivered and read. So now you really do know if someone is flat-out ignoring you. And although it’s only occasionally handy, Allo offers timestamps for each message, so you can trace back conversations more easily.

If you enjoy sending stickers to your mates, then Allo is going to make you very happy indeed. You can throw photos and bright, colourful animations at your contacts, and even scribble on them right there in the app before pinging them over.

Lastly, Allo has some decent security features like the incognito mode. Check out the below section for more on this.

Is Google Allo secure?

The standard Google Allo chats aren’t encrypted or safeguarded, but Google has added an Incognito mode which is a lot more secure.

The Incognito chat mode encrypts your messages, so anyone ‘listening in’ won’t be able to read what you send. Only the person you’re messaging will have access. Google’s smart bots won’t read your incognito chats either, which means no access to Smart Reply and Google’s other Assistant features.

Also, you can set Incognito chats to expire (i.e. self delete) after a period of time, if you’re sending particularly sensitive stuff.

We wouldn’t recommend it to talk about seriously private business matters, but Allo’s incognito mode could be handy for more personal stuff.

Is Google Allo better than Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and other messaging apps?

As with pretty much anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to using Allo compared with other messenger apps.

For one, like WhatsApp, you need to know another person’s phone number to message them. That means you’re less likely to get hassled by randoms that you barely know. However, unlike messenger apps such as Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, you can’t currently use Allo to send an SMS to someone. Not a biggie, but worth bearing in mind. There’s also no backup when you switch devices, so any old conversations will be lost.

As you can see from the ‘best Allo features’ section above, Allo’s main draw is the time-saving Smart Reply feature and the ability to quickly and easily search through old conversations. If neither of those are a big draw for you, we’d recommend sticking with what you’re currently using.

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