Allo update brings chat backups, incognito mode for groups, link previews

Google is updating Allo with a flurry of new features, including chat backups, incognito mode for groups, and link previews, as it continues working toward the release of a desktop client.

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Derek Walter

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Update, 5/3/17: Google is beginning to roll out the new version of Allo, which will include chat backups, group incognito mode, and link previews.

When Allo 9.0 arrived earlier this month, there wasn’t much to talk about. Aside from bug fixes and performance improvements, the update brought nary a new sticker pack to play with. But according to a tweet by Allo chief Amit Fulay, a new update rolling out to users will bring some interesting features.

Backups have been a major issue with Google's messaging clients, but the new version of Allo takes a major step toward changing that. According to Fulay, the update brings support for chat backups and restores, a feature 9to5Google previously found in a deep dive into the APK. Presumably the feature will allow you to back up your chats to Google Drive, which can then be synced to a new phone, along with any images and videos. Google is also expanding incognito to include group chats and link preview, which will give you a snapshot of what's inside a URL before you click on it.

Furthermore, 9to5Google has taken a deep look at the APK and found some interesting features in the works. Most importantly, Google seems to be nearing the formal release of the Allo web client. A feature we first heard about from Google’s VP of Communications Product Nick Fox, it appears as though it will function similar to the way WhatsApp’s does, requiring a specific code scan to authenticate. 9to5Google was able to enable the feature, which prompted to scan a QR code or text code to pair with the desktop.

While the site obviously couldn’t get beyond the pairing screen, it does suggest that Google is fairly far along in the development of the Allo desktop. In his teaser tweet back in February, Fox said the Allo desktop client was “still in early development,” but this discovery might mean its release is closer than we think.

Something to talk about: We’ve been trying to figure out Google’s messaging strategy for as long as we’ve been using Android phones, but at least the Allo picture is starting to become a little clearer. What isn’t clear is where the app fits. Google recently started a push to make Android Messages the default on all Android phones, so Allo is presumably still playing second fiddle in its overall strategy. But with Google I/O right around the corner, perhaps Google will shed a little more light on it.

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