No friends? Don’t worry, the Allo @google bot will love you

Chris Davies - May 18, 2016, 1:00pm CDT
No friends? Don’t worry, the Allo @google bot will love you

If you’ve ever gone looking for a friend to chat to, but nobody’s online, don’t worry: Google has your back. In Allo, the company’s new messaging app, there’s not only a friends list made up of your human contacts, but “@google”, the chatting embodiment of the Google Assistant.

It’s Google’s take on the chat bot phenomenon that has already seen Facebook bet heavily on automated responses in an IM interface, as a middle-man between individuals and companies.

Within Allo, that might be asking “did my team win” – the @google bot automatically knows which team you’re talking about – and then seeing their latest results.

Google Allo

Replying “Roster” pulls up the team’s members; tapping on one in the carousel of thumbnails summons details on that player, as well as prompts for possible follow-up questions.

@google can even show related videos embedded directly in the chat, rather than throwing you out and into the YouTube app instead.

If you’re within a conversation with another human, @google can – with your permission – monitor the chat and automatically make suggestions of things like restaurants to go to, taking into account any mention of food preferences made earlier in the discussion.

Google Allo

Though Google – and specifically the Google Assistant – will be providing much of the conversational intelligence, the field is also set for third-party developers and services to get involved.

Restaurant booking service OpenTable is the first partner confirmed, allowing users of Allo to reserve a table within the chat interface.

One area Google expects to be popular for developers is games that the @google bot can play with you. In the on-stage I/O demo, one example was challenging players to identify a movie based on a string of emojis representing the title.

The question, of course, is why Google opted to develop a standalone app for this, rather than integrating it into its existing chat app, Hangouts. Still, Google says this is only the first implementation of Google Assistant – it’ll also be in the Google Home smart speaker later in the year – so it’s possible we’ll be able to do the same in other software as the bot develops.

Allo – and the @google bot – will be available this summer, on Android and iOS.

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