The Google Assistant can now call up personal info via Allo

allo for web
Allo, a member of a cadre of Google messaging apps that includes Duo, Spaces, Messenger, and Voice, is more than just another way to keep in touch with friends. It’s one of the few ways most Android users can interact with the Google Assistant, Google’s artificially intelligent service that’s otherwise reserved for the Pixel and Google Home. It’s already pretty smart — it can toggle a flashlight, set reminders, ask for directions, and even take screenshots — but now, it’s becoming even more cognizant with the addition of personal reminders.

Personal reminders, which became available for some users Wednesday morning, provide a convenient way to store contacts, calendar appointments, airline reservations, phone numbers, and more with the Google Assistant. Typing “@google” (without quotes) in an Allo conversation pulls up the Assistant, and tapping on the Assistant icon shows you all the information it has on hand. (Try asking “What are my upcoming flights,” for example, or “Show me my upcoming appointments.”) A subsequent Share option lets you share the information with another chat participant.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many tweakable parameters. You can’t share information with another contact in a one-on-one Allo conversation, and you can’t keep requests for information from Allo hidden from folks who might be keen on perusing your history. But the ability to share information could be useful in certain situations. You can have the Assistant provide a friend’s contact info in a group conversation, for example, or have the Google Assistant call up flight details in a conversation with fellow travelers.

As Engadget points out, the feature isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Google Hangouts, one of Allo’s predecessors, gained the ability to offer “smart suggestions” based on contextual clues a few months back — if a friend asks “where are you?” for instance, it will prompt you to share your location. And Facebook recently launched a feature for its “M” Messenger AI assistant that offers you the opportunity to share your location, respond to messages with appropriate stickers, or even point friends in the direction of shopping and travel info.

The personal reminders function appears to be a server-side change, meaning not everyone’s likely to see it right away. But as long as you’ve updated to the latest version of Allo, you’ve got the best shot at getting it first.

Google’s under pressure to prop up Allo’s declining popularity. It took the app four days to score 5 million downloads after its September 2016 launch day, but an additional three months to accumulate another 5 million downloads. And last week, Android Police reported that the messaging app has dropped out of the top 500 most-downloaded apps on the Play Store.

A lack of desktop client and SMS support are likely to blame for the recent dips, but if Google keeps adding new features at a steady clip, there might yet be a chance to reverse the downward trend.

Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.

Teens using Google Docs as the modern version of passing notes in class

Google Docs is reportedly being used by teens as a secret communications app. Instead of passing notes, students are now using the software's live chat function or comment boxes to talk with their friends while in the middle of classes.

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.

Here are our favorite features in Google’s first Android Q beta

Google has released the first beta for Android Q, and with it a number of great new features -- including faster sharing, better control over permissions like location, and more. Here are our top five favorite new features in Android Q.

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.

The iPad Mini, Apple’s tiny tablet, makes a return with powerful specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.

The Apple iPad Air is the power-packed tablet for everyone

The iPad Air is the less serious cousin to Apple's iPad Pro range, and it's the perfect addition to your coffee table. But it's no less powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the iPad Air.

Get excited for your Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus by getting it set up just right

If you've picked up one of the Sony's more affordable smartphones, you may be be wondering what hidden depths lie within. We've got some handy Sony Xperia 10 tips for you here to help you get to grips with your new phone.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…