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article imageGoogle announces new features for Allo, Duo and Photos apps

By James Walker     Mar 23, 2017 in Technology
Google has added several new features to three of its most important apps, Allo, Duo and Photos. The company made the announcement as part of an event in Brazil. It is focusing on making its products work better with limited connectivity.
Google showcased its work to make the Internet more inclusive at its Google for Brazil event this week. The company described the country as an "innovation hub," recognising Brazil's contribution to its products made by the Google Belo Horizonte engineering team.
During the event, Google announced updates to Allo, Duo and Photos that add significant new features for worldwide use. Allo and Duo are Google's new separated messaging apps. Allo handles text-based chats whereas Duo is used for video calling. Photos is Google's highly successful photo management app, aiming to take the pain out of keeping tabs on a large collection of camera shots.
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 is expanding Allo with a couple of smaller features. First up, it's now possible to share files with other users, finally adding in a key missing capability from the app's launch. The range of supported file extensions is limited though, enabling Google to continue to promote its cloud storage service Google Drive as the best way to share files online. You can currently send PDF, APK, ZIP, MP3 and document files directly using Allo.
Google is also expanding Allo's "Smart Smiley" feature to include Brazilian users who speak Portuguese. Smart Smiley intelligently suggests appropriate emoji and stickers to add to messages, based on the context and what you've written so far. It's already available in many mostly English-speaking regions. From today, Portuguese speakers can call on Smart Smiley for help.
Google Duo video-calling app
Google Duo video-calling app
Duo is getting one significant feature. The app has so far been confined to video calls, giving it a clear but restrictive focus. Google is now enabling support for voice-only calls, letting you use Duo as a typical online phone app. The company said the feature is intended to make the app useful in situations where video calling isn't an option, such as when in public.
Audio calling is less bandwidth-intensive than video calling so Duo will now work more reliably on slower connection speeds. This saves on data allowances and battery life too while removing the need to talk face-to-face while on Duo. The feature is launching today in Brazil and will roll out worldwide over the next week.
The Google Nexus 5X (left) and Nexus 6P (right)  announced 29/09/2015
The Google Nexus 5X (left) and Nexus 6P (right), announced 29/09/2015
Finally, Google's popular Photos app is being updated with a new smart backup system that saves data while making files available online faster. When you're using your phone away from home, photos will now continue to upload over mobile data in a highly compressed low-quality form. When you get to a stable Wi-Fi connection, the original shots will be uploaded and used to overwrite the placeholders.
This enables you to share photos with your friends while you're on the go, even if you don't have a good enough connection or sufficient data to upload the images. The low-resolution versions will be transferred first and then automatically replaced with the originals at a later time. The feature can be controlled in Photos' settings menu.
Google in Brazil
Google entrance
Google entrance
Photo: Alphabet
Google is presenting these features as an example of how making the Internet inclusive benefits everyone, irrespective of physical region. Although Duo's voice-calling and Photos' low-resolution uploads were borne from local network conditions in Brazil, they'll be useful and appreciated across the world.
"All of today's announcements were inspired by your feedback," said Google. "We do extensive research in places like Brazil, and we use those insights to make new product features tailored to people's needs in mobile-first countries. The great thing about building products for the most difficult, limited internet conditions is that you end up creating great products for everyone, everywhere."
Google is also planning a few more Brazil-specific features for the weeks ahead. These include the arrival of Google Assistant in Brazilian Portuguese on Android Marshmallow and Nougat phones and a $5 million funding grant to the Lemann Foundation. It will be used to create a new tech-based education project to benefit Brazil.
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