Google Gets Into Smart Messaging with the Launch of Allo

If you find yourself without enough text-based communication options—what between Twitter & WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger & the newly-updated iMessage for iOS 10 and all—Google is getting back into the fold with it’s all-new “smart messaging” app, Allo.

Google Allo, announced back in May, does offer up one key benefit the others cannot: the new Google AI assistant and the company’s search functionality. This enables Allo to automatically provide suggestions based on your conversation; or, should you choose, the ability to search in-app to find articles, images, and videos to share with contacts instantly.

That seamless integration with Google’s AI has some, including Edward Snowden, cautioning users against installing Google Allo, as the company is storing conversations on their servers to, in their words, “improve functionality”. Users can avoid having their conversations stored by enabling Incognito mode—however, as you may imagine, this feature also disables the Google AI integration.

For those who have given up on any semblance of privacy in 2016, Google Allo will deliver much of the same features that the aforementioned Facebook Messenger or the updated iMessage will already: the ability to mark up photos, Sticker options, and “smart reply” suggestions. Unlike Messenger, however, Google Allo will allow you to communicate with people even if they do not use Allo themselves—giving the app more of a “central hub” vibe than Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Allo does not offer video chat functionality; this capability is reserved for Google’s other new app, Duo, which also launched earlier this Summer.

Google Allo is available now for iOS and Android.