Google has updated its smart messaging app Allo with three new features. The new version is rolling out worldwide for Android today and is coming to iOS “soon” — you can grab it from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Google released Allo for Android and iOS in September and has been making improvements to it ever since. While Allo offers unique features like Google Assistant, it isn’t distributed very well and has to compete with three other Google messaging apps.
Allo’s first new feature is GIF-sharing. Allo recently got smarter at helping you find the right emoji or sticker to share, without having to scroll through hundreds of options. Now the app is making it easier to add GIFs to your conversations — tap the smiley icon in the chat bar and swipe left. As before, you can also choose to share GIFs with Lucky — tap on a Smart Reply with the Lucky icon or type “@lucky” followed by your phrase and you’ll get a randomly selected GIF.
Next up, Allo now supports animated emojis. Choose an emoji, touch and hold the send button, and then drag up or down to see it come to life. To send an animated emoji, just let go of the send button.
Lastly, Google Assistant has gained a shortcut in Allo. There’s now an Assistant button in the compose box, so the tool is just one tap away. Google also revealed today that one in every 12 messages in Allo group chats is to the Assistant. Unless you have a Google Home, Android Wear 2.0 watch, Google Pixel, or a recent Android phone, your best option for using Google Assistant is still Allo.
This is another decent update to Allo, but the app’s fundamental problem remains unsolved. Your friends and colleagues aren’t going to switch when they already use so many messaging apps, including other ones from Google.