CONNECTED Google app has all the answers


In an attempt to stay competitive with popular messaging apps such as Snapchat and Facebook’s Messenger, Google recently launched its own service, Google Allo.

Allo is advertised as “a smart messaging app that helps you say more and do more.”

As messaging apps go, Allo’s features are somewhat similar to those found on Messenger and Snapchat. Users can add text, emojis and stickers as well as Snapchat-like creative features, such as doodling on images.

Where Allo separates itself from other messaging apps is with Google Assistant, an artificial intelligent feature comparable to Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo’s Alexa.

Not familiar with Siri or Alexa? Open a Siri-enabled Apple device and ask, “Hey Siri, what’s the closest Chinese buffet to me?” Or, if you have an Amazon Echo, ask Alexa, “Who won the 1979 World Series?”

You’ll get the answers or be directed to websites with the answers.

Google Assistant doesn’t have a catchy name like Siri or Alexa, but it’s quick to provide answers to even the most puzzling questions.

On a personal note, because it doesn’t have a cool name, I’ve named Google Assistant “Goat.” Borrowing two letters from each word, “Google” and “Assistant,” seemed like the cool, hip, tech-naming thing to do.

Plus, I like goats.

I have yet to connect with any human being on the app, so I’m left to test Allo’s interactive features using my only friend: Goat.

I asked Goat, “Why am I so addicted to social media?”

Goat replied, “I found this on the web,” followed by a link to Alex Kazemi’s “An Earnest Guide to Breaking Your Social Media Addiction.”

I replied, “I was kidding.”

Goat replied, “Oh. What is a sea monster’s favorite snack? Ships and dip.”

Clearly Google has some work to do in the humor department. That aside, when I asked the question again, in varying forms, being sure to swap key words such as “compulsion” or “dependence” for “addiction,” Goat provided different results each time.

Still, each link provided relevant resources for answering my social media addiction questions.

Apparently, when you’re in a conversation, you can ask Goat for help by typing “@google” and your question into the message window. I plan to test that feature as soon as I find a real Allo- using friend.

Allo has also taken some of the frustration out of not knowing how to reply to someone. Want to reply in all CAPS, but not sure you’ll get the message across? You can easily increase the font size, or whisper by decreasing the size.

Allo also offers emoji suggestions, important for those of us trying to bridge the generational gap with younger users who seem to have a quirky image for every occasion.

The launch of Allo comes on the heels of another recent addition to the Google catalog, including Duo, a video-calling app similar to Apple’s Facetime.

Both apps are available on iOS and Android.

Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and check out his blog at adamearn.com.

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