Google’s Allo messenger gets GIF sharing, animated emojis in latest update

Google’s Allo may be the youngest messaging app in the search giant’s family of six, but it’s quite possibly the sharpest. It features the Assistant, Google’s AI-powered tool that serves up restaurant recommendations, reminders, flight information, and more. It boasts Smart Reply, which suggests personalized responses to incoming messages. And starting today on Android and soon on iOS, it’s gaining a host of new features that will make Allo even smarter than it was before.

First up is new an improved GIF search function. Now, a new “smiley” icon in the app’s chat bar opens a carousel of selectable reactions. But if you can’t decide which one to use, Allo’s Lucky feature, which launched first in January, will choose one for you. Simply tap on a Smart Reply with the Lucky icon or type “@lucky” (without quotes), follow it with a phrase, and Lucky will share a random GIF to friends within earshot.

Need suggestions? Google says that “LMAO,” “wow,” and “I love you” are among the most used phrases with Lucky.

If you’d rather express your emotions with a little more nuance, animated emojis are joining the Allo fray. Once you’ve chosen an emoji, dragging it up and down animates it. And letting go of the Send button shares it to your waiting chat partners.

Also in tow with the new Allo is an easier way to pull up the Google Assistant. A new Assistant button in the Compose box pulls up Google’s all-knowing AI, at which point you can ask it questions about the weather, your agenda, historical factoids that will impress your friends, or pretty much anything else that happens to come to mind.

Google says one in every 12 messages in group chats is to the Google Assistant.

Google’s shown Allo a lot of love, recently. A major update added a monochrome theme, a landscape orientation, direct messages, and the ability to reply to messages directly from notifications on iOS and Android. And on smartphones running Android 7.1 Nougat, the app gained compatibility with the operating system’s split-screen mode.

And Google’s collaborated with third parties on Allo-branded marketing efforts. In October 2016, it teamed up with Netflix to release a Stranger Things sticker pack. And in December, it coincided the launch of animated Star Wars stickers with the release of Disney’s Rogue One. 

An even bigger development might be right around the corner. Last week, Nick Fox, Google’s vice president of communications, tweeted out a screenshot of a desktop app for Allo. That’s telling — Allo only supports smartphones, and requires a telephone number, but that seems poised to change.


Cortana wants to be friends with Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft no longer wants to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the digital assistant space. Instead, it wants to transform Cortana into a skill that can be integrated into other digital assistants.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Google Fi is getting support for the next-gen messaging standard, RCS Chat

Google has been pushing the development of the RCS Chat standard, and now it's finally bringing that new standard to its own carrier -- Google Fi. With Chat, customers will get features like read receipts, better group messaging, and more.

Here’s how to take a screenshot on an iPad, step by step

The ability to capture screenshots may not be the iPad's most glamorous feature, but it's one of its most useful. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take a screenshot on an iPad, whether it's an iPad Pro from 2018 or an older iPad model.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!