Can Google’s new chat app Allo rival Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp?

Google has finally released its long-awaited chat app Allo, but will AI capabilities be enough to challenge established rivals such as WhatsApp?

Google has launched its chat app Allo, which differentiates from other messenger apps by using artificial intelligence (AI) to assist within user conversations.

The AI tool, referred to as Google Assistant, leverages all of Google’s power in storing and finding out information. This means two friends having a chat about a restaurant can, for example, instantly find out where the closest burger joint is without the need to close their chat window.

This capability has faced early criticism after it emerged Allo’s integration with Google’s AI tech requires messages to be sent without end-to-end encryption.

Back in May, Google pledged that rather than keeping messages forever, Allo would stored them “transiently” – ensuring that full chat logs were quickly deleted and also stored anonymously. Yet today’s launch clearly shows it has backtracked on these features.

Will Allo be a success?

Experts appear to be split on whether Allo will be a success. Tom Ollerton, innovation director at We Are Social, says the AI features shows Google is “ahead of the game”.

He explains: “The real innovation is AI services being embedded into the chat. Allo knows what you are talking about and integrates Google services into your chat, such as recommendations and directions.

“We’ve seen similar AI integration with different bots in Slack and Skype, but Google has really got ahead of the game with this while Facebook remains fixated on winning the chatbot commerce battle.

“In the future it will be commonplace for automated assistants to be present in our conversations, and Allo is the first example for consumers to try out.”

Tom Ollerton, innovation director, We Are Social

However Tony Wright, a strategist at DigitasLBi, isn’t convinced features such as AI and predictive messaging will be enough to steal users from WhatsApp, which boasts more than one billion monthly active users.

“There are countless apps on most people’s phones already. It’s hard to see why someone would want to add another never-ending stream of notifications and messages to their life,” he explains. “It’s definitely in part a reaction to what the likes of Facebook are doing with messaging apps. But Google’s famous for failing numerous times to crack social, which they proved with Google Plus, so I can’t see users rushing to Allo.”

Appealing to brands

Wright believes Allo will offer value for marketers but says the success of the new app will rest completely on how well it will integrates with other Google products.

He concludes: “I imagine at some point brands will have the opportunity to pay for coverage in the AI’s responses to people’s questions about travel arrangements, hotel bookings etc.

“Google loves to integrate its products into one another, so there’ll be some sort of search, PPC equivalent within its app products at some point perhaps.”

Will Allo be a success? Let us know in the comments section below.

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