Google launches Allo, bets on AI to spice up chats

September 21, 2016 9:21 AM EDT

Erik Kay, engineering director at Google, introduces Allo and Duo on stage during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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(Reuters) - Google-parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) launched Allo, a messaging app that incorporates Google's search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to "improve" itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ: FB) WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc's (NASDAQ: AAPL) Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing "@google" followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself. (http://bit.ly/2dgDr6l)

"The more you use it, the more it improves over time," Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a "Smart Reply" feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

"If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like 'aww cute!'," Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in "Incognito" mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)



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