Google is ready to jump back into messaging. Allo, the standalone messaging app that Google announced back in May, is now available to the masses – and probably smarter than any messaging app you’ve ever used.
Allo comes with Google’s AI assistant and search functionality baked in, which means it offers a handful of perks that other apps don’t have. It will automatically suggest replies for you to send based on your conversation. If you’re making dinner plans with a friend, it will surface nearby restaurants. You can ask it for movie times or directions or the score of the game.
“One of the principles we’ve applied here is not to have lots and lots of clutter,” explained Nick Fox, VP of Google’s communications products. “We don’t want people to be having to dig through the app to find the thing they want. We want to surface the right things at the right time.”
All of this “surfacing” happens within an otherwise typical messaging conversation, which is the key here because most people are already having these kinds of conversations inside of other companies’ apps. The artificially intelligent assistant is Google’s differentiator in its quest to capture some of the consumer messaging market from incumbents like Apple (iMessage) and Facebook (WhatsApp and Messenger), both of which have a massive head start.
No surprise, but Fox says he isn’t stressing about Google’s late start.
“While messaging has been around for a while, smart messaging is much newer,” said Fox. “I do think this is a new era where we have a lot of advantages building on top of a lot of these investments we’ve been making around machine intelligence.”
That may finally be the case, though Google has never been able to crack messaging or social media in the past. Its Facebook killer, Google+, has fallen off…