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Google I/O 2016: Allo and Duo apps revealed

Be sure to catch all the news, views and analysis of Google I/O 2016 on Gearburn via our portal, and live blog.

Let’s face it: Hangouts leaves a lot to be desired.

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Google fans have been pining for a replacement app for a while now, so we’re glad to see Google reveal Allo at I/O 2016.

The Android and iOS app is touted as a “smart messaging service”, harnessing your cellphone number for starters (much like WhatsApp).

Allo also delivers integrated Google Search – kind of like Gboard, right?

But one of the coolest features is the smart reply capability, akin to Inbox, which allows you to choose from several preset responses to a message. Allo will also learn over time, figuring out whether you’re a “haha” or “lol” kind of person, for instance.

These preset replies also work for photos, Google revealed, with a picture of a dog delivering responses such as “nice Bernese Mountain dog” or “cute dog!” for example.

What else does Allo do?

Another cool feature is an Incognito mode, which enables discreet notifications, thus hiding messages/alerts from “prying eyes”. Users are also able to specify how long incognito messages stick around for.

“When you delete an incognito conversation in Allo, it’s gone forever,” a Google representative said on-stage.

What about fun features? Fortunately, Allo has a few of these, such as new emojis and the ability to draw on emojis.

But the whisper/shout functionality drew a lot of applause from the crowd, being a slider that allows you to change the size of an individual message (from a “whisper” to a “shout”).

A video service

Google also used the opportunity to announce Duo, a video chat service for Android and iOS.

Much like Allo, Duo uses your cellular number and delivers video quality up to 720p. Fortunately, Google promises that Duo will work on “spotty” networks too, in case you don’t have access to a fast connection.

Duo’s standout feature however is probably Knock Knock, which shows you a live video stream of the caller before you even pick up.

Both Allo and Duo are set to launch in summer (northern hemisphere) on Android and iOS.

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