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Daniel Regueira Blog

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Google’s Allo Might Not Be A Default SMS App For Android Any Time Soon

If you’re at all familiar with using the Hangouts app as your default SMS client on Android then you might know where I’m gonna go with this one.

First off, the Hangouts app has been a supreme mess, particularly when using it as the default SMS app on Android. And one of the main features is of concern with what I’m writing here: the “merged conversations” option.

The merged conversations option in Hangouts used to let you put your SMS conversations with someone and your Hangouts conversations with someone into one single thread/pane. Google phased it out because users found it confusing.

And herein lies my point. If Allo is going to support SMS, then how exactly is that going to look? Allo already registers itself to your phone number instead of your Google account, so in that train of thought we’re already sending messages to people’s phone numbers. If having SMS merged with Hangouts was confusing, then this is even more confusing. I’m confusing myself thoroughly just contemplating it.

Now, I’m sure Google can jump through that confusing hoop by just having the app register with your Gmail account instead of your phone number or maybe some other method I haven’t though of, but there’s another problem with integrating SMS into this app.

The main point of using this app over other chat apps is that it has Google Assistant built into it. If this app is allowed be your SMS client then this might bring up an issue while texting others who aren’t also using the app as their default SMS app.

Think of the scenario. I’m using Allo as my SMS client and I text my girlfriend’s iPhone. Obviously she can’t use Allo for her SMS app since iPhone locks you into their option. That said, when I summon Google to do my bidding and search for something within that same conversation thread, what is that going to look like? See, the issue here is that Google wants to create a great and consistent Google Assistant experience within the chat app and simply can’t control what it does or what it looks like in other SMS apps without some serious retooling.

That is the main reason I think it’ll be quite some time before we see Google Allo allowed to be used as our SMS client on Android. But who knows? Maybe I’m wrong and they’re working on it now. At least, I hope so…

Daniel Regueira