Google released its Android and iOS messaging app Allo, first announced at its I/O 2016 developer event in May, although it has been criticised for not fully delivering on privacy promises.
Google said it takes privacy and security “seriously” and all chats are encrypted using industry standard technologies. The app has an incognito mode where messages will have end-to-end encryption and additional privacy features such as discreet notifications and message expiration.
However, according to The Verge, Google will store all non-incognito messages by default, a “change from its earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form”.
The report said the change was made to improve the ‘smart reply’ feature, which is based on machine learning – which benefits from having access to more data. But it added the move will have “significant consequences” when it comes to law enforcement agencies requesting access to messages sent on the app.
The smart reply feature suggests responses to common questions and will improve over time as more is learned about the user and their style, the tech giant said.
Allo also offers a preview edition of Google Assistant which can be added to group chats to answer questions such as those about movie timings, local restaurants, the news and the weather.
Assistant will also share YouTube videos and games without leaving the app.
Over the coming months, Assistant will be available in more Google products. It will initially be available in English, with more languages coming soon.
Allo will also enable users to change the size of emojis and text, scribble on photos before sending them, and access more than 25 custom sticker packs.
Google also launched an iOS and Android app called Google Trips to reduce the hassle of planning a holiday. It enables users to find popular itineraries in 200 cities around the globe, which can be downloaded for offline viewing.
“Figuring out how to squeeze everything you want to do into a finite window of time can be stressful, especially when you’re in a new place, often with limited access to the web,” the tech giant wrote in a blog.
It added that a GoodThink study shows that 74 per cent of travellers feel the most stressful aspect of travel is “figuring out the details”.
Google describes its new app as a “personalised tour guide in your pocket” with day plans, reservations, things to do and eat, as well as other information.
It has assembled the most popular sights, attractions, and local gems into a full day’s tour, all based on historic visits by other travellers.
It also collates all of a user’s travel reservations automatically from Gmail.