Google hopes to shake up the mobile communications landscape this summer with a cross-platform release of both Allo, a new smart messenger, and Duo, a simplified one-to-one video calling service.
Designed with the goal of making conversations "easier and more expressive," Google's Allo offers a text message replacement that finds contacts based on their phone number. Integrated with machine learning, it offers smart features such as suggested quick replies based on your previous chat activity, similar to Apple's own QuickType suggestions in iOS.
Google's assistant is also integrated into Allo, allowing users to chat with the virtual service one on one, or in a group chat with friends. Google assistant cant book a dinner reservation, provide sports scores, answer questions, or play games. It also integrates with search, translate, Google Maps, and YouTube.
Allo also taps into information on your phone like calendar entries, contacts and photos, allowing users to ask for their agenda for the day or details of a flight and hotel. It also understands natural language, and will respond to queries such as, "Is my flight delayed?"
Google also hopes to simplify video calling with its upcoming Duo service, which will also be cross-platform between iOS and Android. It's a one-on-one video chat service that is optimized to work with connections both fast and slow, and like Allo, it's also based on a user's phone number.
One key Duo feature is "Knock Knock," which shows a live video preview of the caller before a user answers the chat request. Google says Duo is designed to feel "spontaneous and fun."
Calls on Duo are end-to-end encrypted. Google will also offer the same encryption with Allo for chats initiated in Incognito mode.