The new Messaging application from Google is proving to be very useful, to say the least. It’s so good, that it is actually starting to creep people out.
Modern smartphone users make use of their mobile devices to do all sorts of things. But the most common activity is, without a doubt, messaging.
Messaging applications have seen such a boom in terms of number of users and usage time that giant technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Snapchat have been rather forced to dump a ton of money and effort into making messaging applications that are easy and more exciting to use.
Google announced its latest attempt to dominate the new world of messaging applications back at an I/O event in May.
On the face of it, Google Allo doesn’t look much different from the other 100 million messaging applications out there in the world of Android apps. In fact, it might even seem just like your current messaging map.
In other words, initially, Google Allo’s first impression is that of an average app that you might have already used.
The latest Google messaging app has all the usual features that users can find in other messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger and iMessage. Google Allo allows users to send stickers, make different drawings on photos and transfer other media content from the convenience of your smartphone screen.
So what is it that makes Google Allo distinctive from all other messaging applications that have come before it.
Well, the unique feature of Google Allo is, which essentially puts it above the rest, the application’s deep integration with Google’s artificial intelligence engine.
Of course, the messaging application from Google will only perform at its maximum potential if the user’s friends/family join in too. But that’s something that is required by all other messaging applications (those that have artificial intelligence integration) as well.
We’ve already mentioned that your Google Allo experience is contingent on how many of your friends actually install it on their devices as well.
However, if we can just assume for a minute that everyone you know does install Google Allo on their smartphone’s as well, the application does show a lot of promise.
Perhaps the first standout feature that you’ll observe in Google Allo is that the application automatically suggests possible replies when you want to message someone.
The suggestions come in the form of pop-ups when your contacts send you messages.
Understandably, the most frequent responses you’ll get from the application itself are along the lines of “Okay” and “Got it.”
Users can send these automated responses with the help of a single tap. Google Allo also enables users to send these suggested responses directly from the notifications area as well. Of course, the app allows users to send these pre-determined answers from within the main application as well.
With that said, the fact that most suggested responses from Google Allo are relatively primitive ones is something that must be mentioned.
The reason for that is quite simple. Right now, Google Allo is coming up with suggestions from a pool of default answers which it serves up to all users who have installed Google Allo on their smartphone devices.
As mentioned before, that won’t be the case for long as more and more people are likely to join in. Once the number of users goes up, then the Artificial Intelligence behind Google Allo will come into its own by suggesting smart phrases rather than basic ones.
Google Allo and the Artificial Intelligence integrated with it will also be able to suggest custom, or rather personalized, phrases which will be based on each user’s and user’s contacts speech and previous message history.
For example, when the Artificial Intelligence backing Google Allo is working at its full potential it will suggest different responses for different users like “hahaha” instead of the simple “LOL” or “hehe.”
Of course, some users will get freaked out by voluntarily letting an application, let alone Google’s Artificial Intelligence, read and analyze all their previous conversations.
This will be a critical discussion point especially for those users who value their privacy a bit more than normal.
But as good as Google’s Artificial Intelligence is, it is probably worth it to let it read your messages and emails.
The simple reason for allowing the app’s AI to go through your data is that it will enable the application to enhance the level of convenience the user would experience while trying to come up with a response while messaging.
However, if the information being transferred or conveyed through the messaging app is top secret or really sensitive then perhaps there are better applications out there.
The Artificial Intelligence feature supporting Google Allo, will likely become a huge feature of Google Allo with its ability to suggest likely responses to specific messages and in all fairness, it does make it simpler to respond or dismiss messages from specific contacts when you’re in a rush or can’t or won’t respond back to the contact yourself.
Indeed, the amount of time an average user takes to respond coherently to a message is so small that it is actually hard to not reply rather than reply using an AI engine.
But here is where the Artificial Intelligence behind Google Allo goes deeper. Google Allo has another feature that goes by the name of Google Assistant. It is basically a chat helper for users that can readily answer questions that people, or you, search for on the internet using Google search engine or any other search engine.
Comparing Google Assistant with other personal digital AI-enabled assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana or even Amazon’s Alexa it is clear that Google Assistant works when you write rather than when you talk (as is the case with other AI-enabled assistants).
Google Allo allows users to call up Google Assistant in any text message and ask it to answer questions that can be shared to each participant in a group chat.
To take a few examples, Google Allo’s Google Assistant can answer questions related to weather, restaurants, and directions for different destinations.
It shouldn’t be hard to think of Google Assistant as Google Now except that Google Assistant is built right into the user’s messaging application and the user can call it from inside the application when sending messages.
At the moment, the best search terms are generic in nature and almost indistinguishable to the results shown by Google Now or Google Voice Search.
Perhaps that should be expected since Google Allo uses an identical Artificial Intelligence to handle requests.
If the user wants to know answers to questions such as “Show be nearby cafes” or “What’s the score Red Sox score?” using Google Assistant, the application will return a Google search card that’ll have the answers which is exactly what other services such as Google Now and Google Voice Search do now.
Google Assistant takes it a step further by also allowing users to ask follow-up questions such as “What’s the weather?” and “What about this Monday?”
The biggest advantage Google Assitant has over other personal digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, in answering personalized questions accurately, is that it can take advantage of Google Search.
In fact, this ability alone puts Google Assistant miles ahead of other personal assistants.
As mentioned before, Google Assistant along with its AI feature really is built for the future rather than the present. So its potential should be judged based on what it will be able to accomplish in the coming years rather than what it can do right now.
In a recent briefing, the company (Google) advocated that Google Assistant, which is basically the Artificial Intelligence engine, is designed in a way that it would develop into a smarter and more intelligent assistant over time.
Google also suggested that Google Assistant would also be able to come up with answers for more difficult and complex questions. The company also said that Google Assistant might even predict questions before searching for answers.
Of course, it’s not that hard to conceptualize how Google Assistant, someday, might aid users to find the perfect time to meet with someone on a calendar or find a user’s favorite hotels or even sign-in to flights.
And perhaps we should also expect Google to allow Google Assistant’s AI feature to collect and use all the data the company has collected from all of its other online services.
Just think about how much data will be available for Google Assistant to learn how to answer different questions.
Google currently collects an almost unlimited amount of data from its services such as Google Search, Maps, Calendar, Gmail and Google Drive. Not to mention Google Docs which has become the go-to writing software for writers and content creators.
All of these services will be able to share data with Google Assistant someday.
And this is exactly the place (as was the case with predicted answers in Google Allo) where things start to get a bit creepy if not disturbing.
But that’s only if you value things such as anonymity and privacy. In fact, Google as a service might even feel strange and intrusive considering the amount of data the company would have in the future on each of its customers.
Of course, one can always make the argument that all this data and “privacy invasion” basically allows Google to serve us, the customers, better. And it is only because of a super powerful AI that Google is able to come up with super convenient services such as Google Now and Google Assistant.
In time, these services will help a lot of users get things done quickly and more easily. Google Assistant will help users with all sorts of tasks such as helping out to make dinner plans with friends by finding the exact time that suits everyone along with a nearby location to everyone and a dinner plan that meets the dietary requirements of everyone whose coming to the dinner.
In short, the aim of Google Assistant is to make things easier and more comfortable. And let’s not forget the fact that most of us are already feeding Google a lot of information so perhaps it’s better that the search engine giant puts all that data to good use by helping all of us plan our activities in a more favorable manner.
Google Allo also has another feature called Incognito Mode. Google Chrome users would already know what this feature is supposed to do but for what it’s worth, the Incognito Mode is all about providing more security to the user.
Incognito Mode activates end-to-end encryption (a feature which is already enabled in other messaging applications such as WhatsApp) and enhances the level of security between two users. It is essentially a multi-level security system.
Incognito Mode won’t be activated by default. In other words, this Google Allo feature is a completely optional feature, so users will have to opt-in the program if they want to use the Incognito Mode.
Privacy proponents have long campaigned for encryption by default in all messaging applications regardless of platform.
Google Allo uses the Signal Protocol for its Incognito Mode’s encryption feature. Therefore, the feature satisfies the same standards as all other messaging services such as Signal and WhatsApp.
What does encryption do exactly?
Well to put it simply: the encryption feature makes sure that no one except the sender and the receiver is able to read the message. Signal Protocol is, at the moment, the leading encryption standard in the market.
Is Signal Protocol compatible with services such as Google Allo’s Google Assistant? No.
Google Assistant basically acts like a third person in any conversation.
And because features such as end-to-end encryption of messages mean that no one apart from the sender and receiver is able to read the message, it interrupts Google Assistant’s function of prowling over the user messages.
So if you want to use Incognito Mode in an online world that is increasingly becoming more dangerous then you won’t be able to rely on Google Assistant to help you out with customized messages.
Apart from that, with the Incognito Mode on, you can do all the other stuff like sending stickers, photos, messages, audio messages, videos and files without any hindrance.
Incognito Mode also allows users to set an expiry date on their messages. When the expiry date is reached, the particular message gets deleted forever.
Moreover, Google does not even store those expired messages on its servers. But even if the company did try to, it wouldn’t be of much use since those messages would be protected (encrypted) with Signal Protocol.