Google Allo started rolling out today. Similar to WhatsApp, Allo is based on your phone number, so you can use it to send text messages to anyone in your phonebook – not just other Allo users. Apart from that, Google highlighted three aspects of Allo that make it unique: Expression, Google Assistant, and Security. But if you’ve downloaded Allo and used it already, you may have noticed the weird warning that “you are chatting with <insert contact name> by SMS for free”
What’s that? Can you send SMS via Allo?
The answer, as seemingly common with Google products, is “it’s complicated.”
When you tap on a contact that has not yet registered on Google Allo, it doesn’t tell you that the contact is not registered like other apps. Instead, When you send a message, the recipient receives the following text from a random five-digit number :
You can continue to send texts to that person, but the texts will come from that proxy number, and not from your personal number. The other person can reply to your texts from that number, and they will appear in the conversation in Allo.
So to simply say all SMS communication in Google Allo works through a relay number.
So it’s not really ideal for a default SMS app nor can Allo be set as one because it’s simply not built for that. Also, like Duo, Allo is tied to your phone number and only works on that one device. If you activate it on another device, with the same number.. You lose it on the previous device. Some of us would’ve actually liked the ability to respond via our tablets or PCs but well.
Unlike Hangouts however, you do not need to connect your Google account to Allo unless you want the Google assistant to learn about you and provide better results. And if you don’t want that, then why would you even want to be on Allo is quite confusing.
Much like the SMS support on Allo. It’s worse than not having any sort of SMS support at all. Why confuse people?
Kind of like iMessage though, if you uninstall the app, you will still be receiving messages via Allo, but don’t worry, you’ll never know unless you re-install the app again. It’s nothing that big, but if you still want to unregister, you just have to goto settings and tap unregister.
Like I’ve said before, when Google announced Allo and Duo, I was pumped and excited because as of now, I am not really satisfied with the messaging experience on android. There are a bunch of apps with a bunch of unique features and yet none sets itself apart from the others. Facebook’s Messenger and Whatsapp are popular but boring, and I just don’t like them. Allo seems so promising but it doesn’t integrate SMS, doesn’t work on other devices. It’s hard to see a future for Allo or even Duo when the duo of apps have been pitched as iMessage competitors and finally as some sort of centralized communication system on Android. And both of them fail for the same reason. Single device support.
However, Allo is still a very interesting messenger and it’s the closest thing on Android that’s anywhere close to iMessage, apart from Facebook Messenger. Although, iMessage is still far better. Do give Allo a try, if you can convince your friends to install it. If you want to make the plunge, grab the latest APK from APKMirror. or get Google Allo from the Play Store.
As always, don’t shy away if you disagree with something, comment away.