Google Allo - smart messaging

App review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
Google Allo - smart messaging App Poster Image
Useful digital assistant, but big privacy concerns.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not with educational intent.

Ease of Play

It's easy to find what you're looking for, and the app is good about letting you know what it can do. 

Violence

No violence, but some search results can be inappropriate for children.

Sex

No sexual content in the app, but some search results can be inappropriate for children.

Language

No inappropriate language in the app, but some search results can be inappropriate for children.

Consumerism

No direct commercialism in the app, but some search results can be very sales-focused. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drinking, smoking, or drug use in the app, but some search results can be inappropriate for children.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Google Allo - smart messaging is a messaging/digital-assistant app that performs a number of actions, including web searches, finding local restaurants and sending daily news updates. The app can be very handy, but to be useful, it requires an incredible amount of access to your contacts, search history, device location, and more. These are, technically, optional permissions to give, but if you refuse, the app will inform you that it "won't be able to assist you." In addition, searches are unfiltered, so kids will be exposed to the entirety of the web. The app also offers chat, including an Incognito mode, which is encrypted and gets less access to your personal information but parents are unable to monitor. Read the app's privacy policy to find out more about the types of information collected and shared.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written byS_IS_BEST December 16, 2017

Great app!

Does not need any accounts, uses phone number. Works with Google Voice. Google Assistant is not as helpful as it is on Home, Pixel.
Parent of a 18+ year old Written by[email protected] September 8, 2018

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's it about?

GOOGLE ALLO - SMART MESSAGING is a smart messaging app/digital assistant that aims to make your life easier. Instead of typing in requests, you can simply speak them into your phone or tablet's microphone. Beyond performing things such as web searches, which you'd expect from a Google app, it can sign you up for subscription services and set alarms and timers. If you're bored, tell the app and it will offer to tell you a joke, a riddle, play a music video, or show you cat pictures. You can also get travel updates, play games, locate nearby restaurants, or translate words you don't recognize. The app learns from your actions and gives you the chance to tell it your favorite food, color, animal, and so on. As a messaging app, it lets you easily communicate with friends and offers possible replies to messages. Incognito mode, on the other hand, is encrypted (so Google doesn't access your messages) and erases the chats after a set amount of time. Users must select Incognito mode, as it's not the default.

Is it any good?

Aside from fun features, the Google Assistant within the app offers some convenience, but it can come at a pretty steep price -- sometimes too high. To really use Google Allo - smart messaging to its fullest potential, you have to give it an incredible amount of access to everything from your contact list to your web-surfing habits. Of course, since the app is made by Google, the company likely has access to most of this anyway, but it's still jarring to be asked for it up front. And as the app learns your habits, it asks even more invasive questions such as your morning routine, whether you're close to your family, and what makes you nostalgic. That may be too much for some people, which is understandable. But if you're willing to give up that privacy, the app is quite adept at supplying you with relevant information and distractions, and the artificial intelligence is only going to get better. Though its chat functionality adds nothing to a phone's default messaging (other than a few cute stickers and font changes), it does make Allo more of a hub for users. At this point, it seems like a lot of privacy to give up to avoid a few taps.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concerns about giving companies and apps such as Google Allo - smart messaging permission to access their search histories and contacts list. Of course, kids shouldn't share personal information with strangers online, but what does it mean to give an app access to information and then store it?

  • Talk about Google Assistant and what it can do. Do you want a bot to complete conversations? Why, or why not?

App details

For kids who love social networking and safe chatting

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