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article imageGoogle adds new features to struggling Allo app

By James Walker     May 4, 2017 in Technology
Google has added new features to its Allo messaging app including the ability to preview the contents of web links before opening them. Allo is Google's new flagship messaging app but is failing to gain significant attention next to its rivals.
Allo launched back in September, replacing Google's older and respected Hangouts app for consumer messaging. Supposed to be a simpler approach to text-based discussions, Hangouts comes with an integrated digital assistant, a selection of stickers, GIFs and doodling options and rudimentary image sharing capabilities.
As The Verge reports, Google expanded the app in its latest update, adding several features requested by users. Headlining the update is incognito mode for groups, letting you secure group conversations and set an expiration time for new messages. It's already available when messaging an individual contact.
The second notable feature is a staple of Allo's rivals. Link preview shows a thumbnail image and the first few lines of content from webpages sent using the app. It lets you see the key information from the link without having to open it directly in a browser. Finally, Google has added the option to backup and restore chats for safe-keeping.
Google Allo
Google Allo
Google
While the update will be a welcome improvement for users, it doesn’t address the more major issues with Allo. The app still has less than 50 million downloads, compared with the 1.2 billion each of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Considering Allo was built to rival these services, it's evident Google still has a lot of catching up to do.
Back in February, Google confirmed it's finally working on an Allo web app, letting you continue discussions away when away from your mobile device. It's still yet to be released though and Google hasn't said when it will arrive. There's also no sign of a proper desktop app or SMS integration being added anytime soon, two of the other top requests from users.
Allo is a new messaging app that also comes complete with the Google assistant  so you can interact ...
Allo is a new messaging app that also comes complete with the Google assistant, so you can interact with it directly in your chats, either one-on-one or with friends.
Google
Google's revamped messaging strategy has led to the creation of several different apps with overlapping and sometimes conflicting features. The company has decided to focus its popular Hangouts app on enterprise communications, leaving consumers to use Allo and its video counterpart Duo.
The plan doesn’t seem to be playing out as intended though. In separating its apps and aiming for simplicity, Google has ended up lacking the core features people use every day in Facebook Messenger. Users have to switch apps to start a video call from Allo or send a text message when in Duo. More critically for many, Hangouts itself is being withdrawn.
Lacking a cohesive approach to messaging and still struggling to regularly update Allo, Google seems to be heading towards a precarious situation. After unveiling Allo as an app meant to unite Android users, its growth is now stagnating at a tiny fraction of what its rivals can boast. It's likely Google will talk more about Allo at its I/O developers conference this summer, perhaps lifting some of the limitations of the current app.
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