Smart messaging – Google trying to compete for mobile time?

Communication has never been so quick. You unlock your mobile and you can text, use imessage, whatsapp, Facebook messenger, snapchat… the list goes on.

Gone are the days of paying your £50 contract each month with the underlying worry of running out of call minutes or sms credit. I don’t know about you but I unlock my phone and find myself using various methods of contacting friends and family then look at my bill to realise I have used no more than 30 sms messages out of my unlimited tariff month on month – what?!

Technology is powering through the digital age and it is growing beyond belief within interesting markets. First businesses were competing to get that flashy wearable on you at all times then the attention focused on getting consumers to spend using mobile payments rather than plastic and here we are today, with communication being heart of the movement.

So, what do I mean?

Well I have been using snapchat for a long time but I understand that not all demographics use that platform as a form of communication with some people not even being signed up. The old stats used to show its users having a younger age band but in 2017 the tables seemed to have changed. Interestingly the number of users aged 25+ has grown 2x faster than users under 25(according to

Another source of communication I tend to use a lot is Facebook messenger. The platform has been so well-integrated that I no longer feel a disconnect between Facebook and Messenger and the simplified sign in just adds to the user experience. Now if you’re anything like me you’ll find that sometimes words are too much effort when you want to quickly send a message so I find myself continuously using GIF’s in my conversations – I actually found a stat showing that 22 million GIF’s are shared daily on Messenger (WOW!). Facebook messenger exceeds in this area because they make the experience easy and fun. You know what I indulged in just last week? A Facebook messenger group chat game – it was interesting to say the least. I found that my competitive personality came to light when my friend challenged me to see how high I could get my Lego batman to the top of a building. If you’re not like me and have no idea what I am talking about then I encourage you to try Facebook messenger GIF’s as a primary form of language, try messaging multiple users (group chat) and certainly try sending the basketball emoji into a chat then tap it twice and hey-ho you’ll be playing an interesting and slightly addictive basketball scoring game.

Whatsapp is my least favourite source of communication. I can’t even count the amount of times I have deleted the app or turned off my notifications. I only recently installed it again because my work team out voted me on the best way to get in touch. Looking further into the data there are a number of stats that interest me. For example, 17 billion pictures are shared on Facebook Messenger daily whereas only 1.6 billion are shared on Whatsapp. Although, Facebook are the parent company for Whatsapp so maybe they have intentionally suited each platform to different demographics.

So, whats next? How have google tried to compete?

Allo. No that isn’t me saying ‘hello’ in a strange way. Allo is Google’s new smart messaging app that was actually released in the back-end of 2016. It is very interesting and gives you a taste of an intelligent personal assistant. Allo is based on phone numbers rather than social accounts or email addresses which means you don’t have to add people or manage friend requests it will just sync with your phone contacts. The application has a ‘smart reply’ feature which uses Google’s learning technology to suggest a reply for the last message. I have tried this feature and it can be fun but did get a little repetitive when I used the emoji’s suggested. Predicting a sentence that I want to say has worked really nicely though with it suggesting things that I would actually say. That’s with me using the app on and off for a short amount of time so I am excited to see how it reacts when it has learned my tone of voice and talking techniques better. There are a number of cool features that I would highly recommend you trying out for:

  1. Ask Google Assistant anything
  2. Doodle on your pictures
  3. Location recommendations
  4. Games presented by personal assistant
  5. Daily content

So the above 5 features have worked quite nicely in my opinion. You can ask Google anything either in a separate chat or by directly speaking to it within a different chat. You can doodle on your pictures but this isn’t that new as you can do that on Instagram stories, Facebook messenger, Snapchat… the list goes on. Location recommendations can be found by asking Google for recommendations. For example, I sent a burger emoji earlier today and Google predicted a sentence from me asking Google for ‘burgers near me’ – quite cool. This weekend we found ourselves playing a game with Allo, it was a movie/TV game where emoji’s were sent and you had to guess what the movie or TV show was.

So, what is next?

I guess the future is truly a surprise. Communication has always and will always be a huge focus for mobile. Users want convenience and Google implementing their ‘smart reply’ has in my opinion been a step in the right direction. Allo has been in the news as the latest feature is looking to be a winner. You can now transform selfies into custom emoji’s. I think this will prompt a lot more usage from the app as it is cool how the app uses AI to create cartoon stickers from a real photo.

Thanks for reading, I am interested to hear your thoughts!



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