Just over a year ago, Google authorized the Allo messenger for the public, and initial criticism was somewhat scathing. Nonetheless, Google never abandoned its baby and has been consistently working on Allo, which is why I am celebrating its one-year anniversary.
It may sound harsh but somewhat good is not good enough nowadays. Google had to take note of this when it presented its new messenger, Allo, at Google IO 2016. Hangouts, the established messenger, will continue to serve business purposes, while Allo was intended for consumers. Thanks to Assistant and stickers, Allo was meant to make a big splash in the market.
I can already say with confidence that this plan has not succeeded. Complaints in about about flawed SMS integration are common in its comments section, as well as confusion over the stickers or privacy.
Even after a year, Allo is doomed to a shadowy existence and, well, I recently stopped using the messenger app. At the beginning, I quickly installed it, registered and immediately received a sticker from Sophia and got off to a perfect start. But that was about it. Although there are roughly ten entries in my contact list, most of them are colleagues from the tech industry who have probably tried out Allo once and still have a ghost account. Two private contacts are visible, but I can even get better results with Threema (which I actually still use with friends). The key issue is privacy.
Allo: good but just not good enough
Allo does some things well, but nothing better then the competition. Although Allo only optionally links to your Google account, chats are not encrypted by default; only the optional incognito mode hides messages from curious but unauthorized eyes. Of course, the Assistant is not available in such chats. WhatsApp generally uses end-to-end encryption, as does every other serious messenger, in fact. Multi-device functionality with Allo is only available via a web stopgap solution - as is the case with most competitors, of which Wire deserves positive mention.
One last thing about Allo: The messenger is linked to your Google account and your own telephone number because of the Assistant. Allo actually doesn’t do anything better. Despite its aged user interface, WhatsApp is practically superior. And even Allo’s newer UI isn't very intuitive.
Allo updates have hardly changed anything
As sad as it may sound, Allo has no surprises up its sleeve despite an entire year of significant developments. The obscure separation between Allo and Duo is not exactly user-friendly and has only been dubiously resolved to date.
Simply pulling a messenger out of thin air is not a smart idea, especially when this idea is gambling on the idea that people like to send stickers so much. Looks like Google made a serious misstep with this one, leaving Allo with few friends on its first birthday.
Do you use Allo? What do you like best about it? As is the occasion, let’s celebrate Allo in the comments.