Google’s seeming inability to settle on a chat platform has been something of a running joke on the internet for years, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Barely two years after launching its Allo chat app, Google has announced that Allo will shut down in the coming months. This follows a decision in spring 2018 to “pause” development of Allo to focus on RCS messaging.
In a blog post, Google says that Messages (its texting platform) has enjoyed increasing usage, and it wants to continue that “momentum.” Consequently, Google is giving up on Allo. The implication is that Allo does not have continued momentum. That’s not surprising for a product Google hasn’t updated in almost a year. Even before that, Allo’s usage was abysmally low. The app dropped off the Play Store top charts within weeks of its release, and anyone who did use the app could tell you it was a wasteland.
Google’s original intention with Allo was not all bad. Allo used the same phone number user ID trick as WhatsApp, and the app did have some cool features. It was the first place you could get Google Assistant (it was a chatbot), and the Smart Reply feature was handy. When it became apparent that Allo was slipping, Google integrated several of its most popular features into its Messages app.
You can still use Allo today, but it’s time to start looking for an alternative. Google says that Allo will stop working in March 2019. If you have chats in Allo that you want to save, there’s an option to export your data in the settings.
Google wasn’t always so confused about messaging. For years, it had Google Talk built into Gmail and Android. The advent of Google+ fractured Google’s messaging platform with a series of short-lived options like G+ Chat and Huddle. Later, Hangouts became the de facto Google chat platform, but that didn’t last long. Consumer Hangouts is essentially dead, replaced by the business-oriented Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Allo came along in 2016, and now that’s dead, too.
So, where does that leave Google? The company says it’s continuing to work with carrier partners on RCS, the replacement for SMS text messages. With RCS, your text messages gain many of the features associated with other messaging platforms like read receipts, high-resolution images, and more. The Hangouts brand isn’t going away, either. The current consumer Version of Hangouts is destined for the dustbin of history, but Google says it will eventually transition everyone to Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
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