Google's smart messaging app Allo is now available on iOS and Android.
Allo is a "smart messaging app that learns over time to make conversations more expressive and productive," Google said at its I/O developer conference earlier this year, where it first teased the app.
It taps into Google Assistant, a platform which Google CEO Sundar Pichai described as "a conversational assistant" that will allow users to have "an ongoing, two-way dialog with Google." For now, Assistant within Allo is a preview version for English speakers, but you can ask it questions (movie times, restaurant recommendations, weather) and request that it do things for you (post a YouTube video to a group chat). Type @google within a group chat or just talk one on one.
"Over the coming months, your Assistant will be available in more Google products, working seamlessly throughout your day at home or on the go," group product manager Amit Fulay wrote in a blog post.
Allo also includes Smart Reply, which serves up message responses based on what Allo thinks you want to say. "If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like 'aww cute!'" Fulay said.
Google is working with artists to create more than 25 custom sticker packs, "because sometimes a 'sloth riding a pizza' says it all," Fulay quipped.
Messages in Allo are encrypted, but for an extra layer of security, an Incognito mode provides end-to-end encryption, as well as less intrusive notifications and message expiration. But as The Verge points out, Google has backed off one security feature in Allo. Messages will be stored by default to improve Smart Replies, though you can avoid that by using Incognito mode.
Google Allo is available now to download for free from the App Store or Google Play. If your friends haven't yet installed Allo, you can text them and they'll receive a prompt to download.