Google’s newest messenger app, Allo, was released about a year ago. The app’s momentum dropped shortly after release, but that hasn’t stopped Google from continuing to improve the app. At long last, Allo has gained a web client, but has it been worth the wait?
Unlike Hangouts and similar cloud-based messaging services, your phone acts as the intermediary between your computer and Allo. Anything you do is actually performed by your phone, which sends the response back to your computer. As such, your phone will need a working internet connection for the Allo web client to work.
Once you’ve got Allo installed on your phone, just open the side menu and tap ‘Allo for web.’ Then open allo.google.com/web on your computer, and scan the QR code with your phone. However, there is one huge caveat to Allo for web that becomes apparent when trying to set it up. It only works on Chrome. Visiting the web app on any other browser prompts you to install Chrome before continuing.
Once you have everything set up, the interface and functionality is exactly what you would expect. It’s Allo, but from your computer. The only major design change from the mobile app is a persistent side panel with all of your conversations. You can still change backgrounds, create Incognito conversations, ask Assistant questions, and of course, use stickers. Everything you can do with Allo on your phone can be done on the web. That said, you cannot receive notifications unless you have the web app open. This is just plain silly. There is a web technology for delivering push notifications from web apps, even when they are closed, called Service Workers. Google+ already uses this.
Now that a web client is in place, Allo is one step closer to feature parity with competing apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. But I don’t think it will make Allo any more attractive to the general public, or make them switch away from Hangouts.