Google launched its highly anticipated smart messaging service Allo last night, and it’s pretty much turned out to be a disaster from the start. The premise behind Allo is that Google Assistant will add seamless contextual information to conversations, but with Assistant only being a “Preview Edition” it certainly doesn’t work as intended. And since Assistant doesn’t work that well at all, all we really have is another glorified messaging app–it’s just like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and the list could go on forever.
Hit the break to find out what everyone is saying about Allo.
The New York Times‘ Brian Chen tried out Allo for five days. Chen determines that Allo’s Google Assistant can be boiled down to just an annoying office intern. Suffice to say, he wasn’t happy with how half-baked the app was:
“For now, Allo’s artificial assistance feels limited. So if I were a manager seeking an assistant, I probably wouldn’t hire Allo. But I would politely tell the candidate to reapply after getting more experience.”
Allo is actually far from useful, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Nathan Olivarez-Giles. With Google Assistant being so lacking, he says Allo is one of those things that only early-adopters are going to take advantage of. It’s just not useful for the everyday person at this point, and there’s nothing here to really drive people away from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger:
“The Google Assistant’s lack of strong abilities makes Allo an early-adopter curiosity that is fun to explore, but still miles from useful. Without much more than novelty to offer at this point, convincing your friends to use Allo will be a hard sell, especially since, to even get hold of them, you’ll have to use iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger…or Google Hangouts.”
On the other hand, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn seems rather positive about Allo’s future. Bohn calls it a simple and good messaging app, but realizes Assistant isn’t at the level it needs to make this the new smart messaging app you need to switch to right now. Should you switch? Bohn says “probably not yet:”
“For you, the real question is simply this: should you switch? And the answer is: probably not yet. The Google Assistant shows promise and the chat stuff is perfectly good at what it sets out to do. I’m just not sure that it sets out to do enough. But we’ve seen Google swing for the fences before in messaging and watched it flop — three years ago it relaunched Google Hangouts before letting it languish.”
Digital Trends‘ own Julian Chokkattu first impressions is that the idea of Assistant makes it worth downloading to at least give Allo a try. Unfortunately, there’s just no lasting draw here:
“Assistant is compelling enough of a reason to download Allo and give it a try. It will keep you intrigued and entertained, but continued usage of the app really depends on whether it will take off. It’s hard for new messaging apps to break ground. Duo reached 10 million downloads in under a month, but people weren’t using it as much. That could be different with Allo, though as text conversations are far more popular than video calls. Still, there’s no immediate draw, and the only reason people will rush to download it is because it’s attached to the Google brand.”
It’s worth noting that Allo is only a version 1.0 application. It will get better from here on out and will likely have some sort of SMS support in the future. Not only that, but it’ll no doubt have more integration and seamless activity between applications in the future as well. At this stage, it feels half-baked and only early adopters are going to take this on as their go-to messaging app.
Unfortunately, it’s just not acceptable to sit around and wait until Allo can compete with the big dogs. Our colleague David Ruddock over at Android Police summed it up nicely:
Sorry, guys – it’s 2016. “v1.0” is not an excuse to release an uncompetitive messaging app when you’re a $500 billion company.
— David Ruddock (@RDR0b11) September 21, 2016
So, should you download Allo? That’s up for you to decide, but it’s going to be a serious battle getting your friends and family to move over to what is essentially a broken messaging platform. It’s a neat prototype, but that’s all it is: a prototype.