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Hello Allo, I'm sorry I pressured your early release!

This week Google released their new mobile chat application called Allo. It was first announced in May at Google's annual developer conference Google I/O. Google made many promises including that Allo and it's 1 to 1 video chat app Duo, would be released this summer. I believe that this was Google's largest mistake in regard to it's messaging app Allo. It was released on the very last day of summer while Duo was released almost a month earlier. This would indicate to me that Google wasn't ready to release Allo just yet. I think that they were caught in the trap of saying when they would release something and as the summer neared it's end the pitchforks began to come out from the public wondering where Allo was. I was one of those people.

From the moment it was announced I was excited, if not a bit confused, that Google was coming out with a smart messaging application. So I want to apologize to Google and all of the men and women who have worked really hard to create this app. We pressured you into release it, when likely it was going to be coming on October 4th with the big event that you have planned. I wish you hadn't given us a date to hold you to, but I also wish you had the time to put the right marketing behind this app because it's so good.

That's right, I love it so far. I have no issues with there not being a desktop client or really that it
doesn't work with SMS like Facebook Messenger or iMessage. The only reason I wish that SMS did work was that it would really help with adoption, especially on Android in the US. Really I don't care for SMS all that much, but I do message with my parents, sister, and friends on Hangouts and SMS. I have been successful in getting some of them to use Allo, but not all of them and I don't if I'll be able to keep all of them on it either. SMS is one of those reasons, but security of data is the other.

Beyond the release date, Google Also promised that Allo would have encryption and would not save your chats in Incognito mode. Since it was release there have been concerns thrown around about Allo storing your data and not encrypting it. Even Edward Snowden has thrown his opinion into the mix, stating that Allo is something you shouldn't use because your data is stored. It is for this reason that I wish Google had taken a bit more time and I and others hadn't been holding them to a timetable. They needed to be ready to address those concerns and have not said much at all about it.

As is often typical of our media today everyone jumped on the Allo hating bandwagon without going back and checking the facts. If you notice, the picture above is from the Allo website and lets you know that Incognito Chats do have end to end encryption and that your messages expire. If you click the Learn More link on the page you find a little more info on how it works. So what is the big deal you might ask.

What is interesting is that is exactly what Google promised back at I/O! If you watch the video below starting at 43:45, you will both hear and see that Allo has encryption, but only end to end encryption in Incognito Mode. The presenter says, "While all messages in Allo are encrypted, chats in Incognito Mode are end to end encrypted." He goes on to talk about messages expiring and when deleting an Incognito Chat it's gone forever, but he adds that, "no one can see it again on your device." What bothers me about this is many people have said that Google has reneged on what they said at I/O, but I don't see any differences between what they said then and what they are saying now.

As seems often the case with news media they don't do the type of fact checking that once was required. This seems even more prevalent with major newspapers and TV news media. Please people, check your facts or don't report it at all. What is interesting is that people seem upset about the regular chat not being end to end encrypted, but if that were the case, one of Allo's best selling points, Goolge Assistant.
Allo has Google Assistant Preview built right into it right now. It will give some possible Smart replies to messages and pictures, suggest restaurants, movies, and games in chats with other people or in a chat with just you and Google Assistant. It's not perfect, but it's a Preview. I have found it to be fairly accurate so far and it learns as you use and interact with it.

It doesn't bust into conversations or take things over, it's just there when you need it like Google Now/Search. I really love the stickers and shout/whisper is pretty cool too. Messages are instant and my Mom picked up the app very quickly unlike Google Hangouts.

So after 5 days with an app that's still a bit of a preview, it's really good for a chat app. Google assistant is pretty good, but still in it's infancy, and Google will have it's work cut out for it to really break into the messaging space in the US. Around the world it may be a different story, but that might be for another post. If you are Edward Snowden maybe, a smart messaging app might not be for you. However, I'm guessing Russia knows everything you do anyway if your him so I'm not sure it matters.

If security of your messages is that important to you, I'm guessing you have never logged into Facebook, probably don't use email, are involved in shady things or likely live in the wilderness somewhere. So you won't even be reading this blog. Otherwise if you use Android or iOS, give it a try, it's a great messenger that will only get better with time and it's cross platform so we can all be message equals. I'm talking to you iMessage!

I only hope that Google can get the word out to more than just us geeks in US, and that the news media can get things right for once if they do.

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