Google has launched Allo, a messaging app the company announced at its I/O developer conference earlier this year. The initial release includes a variety of familiar features, such as stickers (Facebook Messenger) and the ability to draw on photos before sending them (Snapchat).
What sets Allo apart is the integration of Google Assistant, an ambient service that the company plans to implement into a variety of current and upcoming products, such as Allo and Google Home (the company’s much-anticipated answer to Amazon’s Echo). Although only a preview edition of Google Assistant is available in Allo, the implications of where it could go are interesting.
As of now, users can interact with Assistant in two ways: by directly messaging or by calling upon it during a chat with another user. This enables users to remain in the chat while looking up movie times or local restaurants, finding answers to questions, playing games or sharing YouTube videos.
While getting information directly in Allo is great, this functionality is very reminiscent of Facebook’s artificial intelligence M assistant (which is only available to a small portion of the company’s 1.71 billion monthly active users). So what will attract users to this platform over Facebook, or even Apple’s iMessage?
Things will heat up once Google releases its Google Home product, which will heavily rely on Google Assistant. With Google Home, the company will create an ever-present platform to assist users regardless of where they are. Facebook has yet to move into the home space, and Amazon famously flopped its attempt at entering the mobile phone space. Google, it would seem, is looking to take the best from both companies and offer it to consumers in a tidy package, or platform if you will.
Google’s platform will likely open up a range of opportunities for startups to build on top of it. This can been seen with Facebook’s Messenger platform, which has had more than 34,000 developers join since launching in April. Amazon is another example, having taken a proactive stance in incentivizing startups with its Alexa Fund—a $100 million venture vehicle committed to funding founders building products that utilize the voice technology powering the Amazon Echo. Slack also launched an $80 million fund earlier this year to support companies building upon its platform. The ability to reach a wide array of consumers through Google’s many products will undoubtedly draw in entrepreneurs, and venture investment will surely follow.