Google's New Allo Messenger Turns You Into a Chatbot

Say goodbye to the need for free thought.


You know what’s entirely overrated? Thinking of what to say when people text you. Luckily, Google is solving the problem of free thought with the new Allo messaging app, announced today at the Google I/O conference.

Allo is part messenger, part chatbot assistant, will be available on Android and iOS later this summer, and has some of the world’s most advanced A.I. behind it. Simply start up a texting conversation with your personal Google assistant and have the assistant do everything for you. It’s the chatbot to end all chatbots – much more capable than Siri. And Allo appears to be able to do plenty of what the upcoming Viv A.I. will be able to do.

But in addition to chatbotting away your every desire, Allo basically turns you into a chatbot. The app’s machine learning slides its A.I. response suggestions into all of your conversations within the messaging app, eliminating the need for free thought.

Erik Kay is all in for smart replies that make you like a chatbot.


When you receive a message from someone in the app, Allo lists possible replies (or “suggestion chips”) above the keyboard. It doesn’t show the stereotypical and lame replies that can already be found in other messaging apps. Allo’s replies are derived from an A.I. that understands natural speech patterns and can effectively read images.

“Smart reply actually creates a conversational response,” Erik Kay, a lead engineer on Allo, said onstage while demonstrating the product. “Something like yummy.”

“Yummy!” was a response option to a picture of linguine and clams, along with “I love linguine!” and “Yum clams!” You know who else loves linguine? Tostitos Tyler. TT would definitely use the “I love linguine!” suggestion chip.

Lots of linguine love.


“This is only possible because we married our strengths in computer vision and natural language processing,” Kay said. “If you think about it, there’s a lot of complex technology at play here to say something as fun and natural as ‘I love linguine!’”

No joke. The software behind Allo had to process what the photo is, then correctly recognize linguine pasta and clams separately. And then it had to offer suggestions that someone might actually say when presented with a photo of linguine and clams.

If you have issues with the tone of how you text, Allo has a solution for that, too. It’s called “WhisperShout,” and it makes the text of messages either large or small. Goodbye caps lock.



Allo eliminates the need for you to come up with your own response. Why think when you can use whatever Allo’s chatbot tells you? There was one major flaw detected during the demonstration, though. If you don’t normally text using a lot of exclamation points (like how Kay apparently does), Allo’s suggestions may not be quite your thing.

Still, it’s a small trade off to turn yourself into a chatbot.

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