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Allo and Duo news: what we know about Google’s all-new communication apps

Google Assistant will be able to answer questions in voice messages within Allo

Google has two apps on the way that have been highly anticipated since the search giant announced them at its developer conference in May: Allo and Duo. Duo is already out, and Allo should be out this summer. Seeing as summer is now in full swing, rumors have begun to spread about some additional features and Google’s messaging strategy.

But just what will the new apps look like? And how will they function in the grand scheme of Android? Google Duo, of course, has now been released, and for more information about it, head here.

Related: Google transparency report: Government asks for more user data each year

Google Assistant integration

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Google Assistant will be a big part of Allo. You will, for example, be able to treat Assistant like a chatbot to find out information from the web and do things like order food. A recent report from Android Police also suggests that you’ll be able to use Allo to interpret voice messages into text. That is to say that when you’re chatting with Allo, you’ll be able to either type things to the assistant, or tap the microphone and chat to it like you would in any other Allo chat. Assistant will then transcribe your message into text, then do what you asked it to. That’s especially helpful for times when you’re not connected to the internet — Allo will hold on to what you asked it, and then answer it when you’re finally reconnected to the internet, so you won’t forget about what you were asking. No more “can’t reach Google at the moment.”

Allo is also highly anticipated for its encryption methods. Another recent report suggests that the app’s incognito chats will have disappearing messages that work like Snapchat. Chats in incognito mode will be end-to-end encrypted, and each participant will get unique identification keys. There is, however, a drawback to using incognito mode — you won’t be able to use Google Assistant. Part of the mode also includes private notifications. Instead of a preview of the message appearing in the notification, the notification will simply say that “you have a new message.”

Will Allo actually be called Allo?

Before these new reports, we heard from Reddit user LTNGNX on the Android subreddit claiming to be an “experienced Google tester” says he has been testing Allo and Duo since before Google I/O when they were announced. LTNGNX says he is breaking his nondisclosure agreement by discussing the apps, but he isn’t offering proof via screenshots since “that’s actually how companies discover who’s leaking stuff they shouldn’t.”

Another Redditor going by therdav3 says after tearing through the app’s APK, Allo is actually a code name for the app’s real name — “Messaging.” This makes sense if it’s going to be a default app, but we cannot verify the user’s claims. Therdav3 also says Allo offers SMS support and “will determine whether or not your message can be sent via SMS or their proprietary system based on whether the other person is online.”

Allo and Duo could eventually be the death of Hangouts and Messenger

Google has a number of messaging apps out right now, and with two more on the way many suggest that there are simply too many un-deletable communications apps on Android. If rumors are anything to go by, however, Allo and Duo may be the only ones you’ll need.

Reddit user LTNGNX says that Allo and Duo will end up being the default communications apps in Android Nougat, and that the “messenger app” will eventually be phased out. Therdav3 says this means Google Messenger will be replaced — an odd move considering that app is less than two years old. The two apps are directly competing with iMessage and FaceTime.

With Allo being such a high priority, what happens to Hangouts? LTNGNX says the video conferencing and messaging app will be “phased out little by little on mobile devices,” but it will still be around because it’s used by businesses.

There’s a chance that’s won’t be the case, though. A report from Android development forum and blog XDA refutes LTNGNX’s claims. “Neither Hangout nor Messenger will be going anywhere,” a source told the website. “Allo only supports Allo messages at this time. There is no cross-app messaging, Google Voice or SMS support.”

Will Allo have Google Voice and SMS integration?

There are conflicting reports about whether or not Allo will include integration for Google Voice and SMS integration.

“[These] two apps are very important for Google and things will be done little by little mostly to avoid even more drama with the [European Union] and their shenanigans,” Reddit user LTNGNX writes. “How do I know all this? I’m a third level beta tester, breaking an NDA and risking a lot trying to bring some facts and hopes to r/Android.”

LTNGNX claims that multiple versions of Allo are reportedly being tested by beta testers. Some testers may have Google Voice integration built into their version of Allo, while others may have different features. So if this information is true, the ultimate decision lies with Google as to which variant tests the most positively.

Related: Hands on with Android Nougat Developer Preview 5

LTNGNX claims that Allo will have SMS and Google Voice support, and “Allo will be associated to one device only, at least at first. It will be, eventually, expanded to web and more devices” — meaning Allo will be attached to only one phone number at launch, like WhatsApp. It seems as though based on LTNGNX’s claim, the lack of multi-device syncing is due to issues with Incognito Mode. Google Voice features, LTNGNX says, will come to Allo and Project Fi, but it may be a while. We may also see a web and Chrome OS version of Allo over time, and there is reportedly a tablet version being tested as well.

Users will be able to switch between Allo and Duo within the app to instantly video chat and vice versa, LTNGNX claims. Allo and Duo also may gradually roll out before Android 7.0 Nougat so that Google can get early feedback.

We shouldn’t have to wait too long to see whether any of this information is true — Duo has already been released, and Allo should be out before summer ends in mid-September. We will update this post if we learn more, and when we hear back from Google. If you want to read more about the Google Assistant-powered Allo messaging app, you can read our post about it here.

Updated on 08-23-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added info about Allo being able to answer voice messages.

Updated on 07-25-2016 by Kyle Wiggers: Added Allo details from XDA source. 

Article originally published July 2016.