At the Google I/O conference this year, the company announced Google Duo and Allo. The former, a video calling application, has been launched already and has accumulated 10 million downloads. The latter promises to be a WhatsApp like application and was supposed to launch by the end of the summer. With fall beginning on the 22nd of September, rumours have finally begun, courtesy of leaker Evan Blass, that the app will launch this week.
Blass tweeted that Allo will launch this week and then followed it up with the date: 21st September, 2016.
Hello, Allo (launches this week).
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) September 18, 2016
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) September 19, 2016
That being the last day of Summer kind of fits in with Google’s announcement that Allo was going to launch at the end of summer.
Allo is very like WhatsApp; it’s probably Google’s way of competing with Facebook and Apple, both of whom have popular messaging apps, the former even more so. Allo uses your phone number as your ID online like WhatsApp and promises a lot of emojis, smart replies and even the ability to talk to Google Assistant. The service also has end to end encryption to keep your conversations private; another thing it seems to borrow from WhatsApp. Adding a personal touch to the app, Google has also added an incognito mode.
Google’s previous foray in to social networking hasn’t really paid off. Google+ has just over a 100 million active users. You’re automatically signed up if you have a Gmail address anyway. They tried integrating the service with YouTube to make it more popular but last year that feature was discontinued. Google just never seemed to catch a break.
Allo has to differentiate itself from the pack to really make a mark. There are a myriad of messaging apps out there like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger and iMessage that people have gotten used to using over a period of time because they’re either staples in an ecosystem or they offer a unique experience. Instagram’s stories feature recently copied off Snapchat, successfully I might add, and exploited a huge user base with an already popular idea.
Now Google has probably the largest user base in the history of the internet. Facebook’s 1.6 billion users don’t come close to the users searching on Google every day. Yet that user base has no intention of climbing on to a social network run by a search company. Why that would translate in to a popular messaging app is anyone’s guess. Maybe they’ll make the experience effortless or implement machine learning in the system like no one has or even give people the option to have conversations that “never happened” in Incognito mode. Or maybe the UI of the app will be so elegant that it’ll speak for itself.
Who knows what will pull the masses to this app? Sure, the anticipation might pull a couple of 100 million in to start but to make them stay and ditch the other apps will require something special.