Google Allo, the instant messaging app with Google Assistant is now available for download. And while it is similar to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other chatting apps in the market, getting a hang of Allo is not so simple. We explain how to use Google Allo, both on Android and iOS.
Google Allo just needs a mobile number to get started. After you download the app, it will ask you for your mobile number. Pick India as country and add your number. You’ll get a verification code via SMS, and once you add that you can set up a profile picture. Either take a new selfie or just choose from the camera roll and then add your name. Do note that just like WhatsApp, you can’t use the same mobile number to run the app on two difference phones.
Also while setting up, you can choose to link your Google account to Allo.
Chatting up with Google Assistant
Once you set-up, Google Assistant’s messages will be the first to appear with a ‘Hi’. Google Assistant starts by saying, “I can help you find what you need and get things done” and it will ask for access to your device location in order to improve suggestions.
You can say no or yes and after that the Google Assistant will show a card carousel of options that it offers: From Sports, News, Fun, Going Out (Restaurants), Actions (Like set an Alarm, though this is Android only) , Games, Weather, Translate, Travel, Answer. Or you can ask Google Assistant “What can you do?” next time you want to see all these options.
Google Assistant can also search for your photos from Google Photos, but only in this conversation. You can’t use this command in a personal chat or a group chat yet.
Chatting with friends
At the bottom you’ll see a little Message bubble, tap on that and your contacts will show up. Do remember to give Allo access to contacts, etc in order to talk to friends. Some names will have an invite option next to them.
On iOS, you’ll get the Share option, and you’ll have to share the invite via Message. It’s not that smooth a process on iOS. On Android, the messaging app opens instantly prompting you to send a text message to the person asking them to download Allo.
Allo also has the options of send an SMS for free and the reply sent by your friend comes straight in the app itself. Your friends gets the option of Ignore, Download or Reply when they get a message from Allo. Download will open a link for the Allo app.
Calling Google Assistant inside a conversation
Just type @Google and the assistant will come up. You can make requests like Restaurants close by, Showtimes for a movie, etc and the Assistant will show the results inside the conversation with a friend.
Sending stickers, pictures, videos etc
Just tap on the Plus symbol next to where you type messages, and you’ll see the options. There’s a Keyboard, Stickers, Gallery, Camera (for new pics, videos) and Location tab. On Android, you can even scribble on pictures with coloured pens (sorry iOS users).
You can either take a new picture or choose one from the gallery. Once you’ve picked your photo, tap on the pen symbol and make annotations. Hit send or tap cross on top to send a different image.
Stickers are also available here in a separate tab. To get more stickers, just tap the symbol looks like sticker and has a Plus on it as well. This one is on the right-hand side, and choose from the packs available. Download the packs you wish to add.
To go back to keyboard, just tap on the keyboard symbol at the bottom. There’s also an option to share location, with a little pin bubble on the extreme right. You’ll see recently used stickers on the top when you tap on the clock symbol. If you’re a fan of Adarsh Boy, then there’s a sticker pack for that available as well.
Change text size while sending a message
Just press and hold the send icon. You can then slide up the blue bar to shout or down to whisper. Similar to how it works on iMessage. Just remove finger to hit send.
To create a Group chat, again tap on the message symbol at the bottom and right on the top you’ll see an option to Start Group Chat. First you’ll have to name your Group, Choose an Avatar (Optional) which can be a sticker or a personal photo. Then just add members.
Interestingly there seems to be no Group Admin feature, and you can leave the group you created, while others can remain it. To go to a group’s settings, just tap on the group name or symbol on top, and the the settings will show up.
The settings also have an option of clearing history, mute, Group details, Add People or just Leave and Delete chat history. It seems everyone needs to leave the Group for it to get fully deleted.
Start Incognito Chat
Again go to the Message symbol, and you’ll see the option to start Incognito chats. These are one-on-one and you can see a expiration time for each message. Like 5 seconds, 1 minute, 1 day, 1 week or even never.
Messages in this chat are end-to-end encrypted and get deleted and are not saved on Google’s servers. You can’t call the Google Assistant inside this chat. Auto-suggestions also don’t work inside Allo’s Incognito mode. But stickers and photos can be shared. Users have the option of either clearing history in Incognito mode or Deleting it entirely.
Block someone in Allo
It is easy to block someone in a one-to-one chat in regular and incognito mode. Just tap on the conversation, and on the profile icon. A profile page for that person should open, and you just hit block below. On Android, you can long press any conversation, and then the option to delete chat, mute, block also shows up.
Tap the little ‘Menu’ symbol on top left corner, and you can see your profile, mobile number, blocked contacts, and settings. Here you have the option of changing your profile photo and name. Just tap on the pen symbol on the top right corner. You can edit your profile and then hit save.
For setting, tap Settings from the Menu. You can toggle on or off if you want to save incoming media (we suggest off), there’s the option to Always Download Media, In-App Sounds, etc. Your Google account which is synced will also be seen there, but you have the option of disconnecting it.
You can also unregister your number, and while all your conversations will be deleted from the Allo app on the device, chats with the Google Assistant will be stored by the company.
What can’t you do on Google Allo
For now Google Allo doesn’t let you share documents, PDFs, etc like WhatsApp. It’s also not clear how many people can be added to a Group chat either. Allo is also saving a user’s messages on Google Servers, and is not end-to-end encrypted by default unlike say WhatsApp.