Google has launched its new messaging app, Google Allo, for Android and iOS. The rollout started today, although it may take a day or two for it to make its way to Australia.  

Pitched as Google’s answer to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Google Allo combines chatting with stickers and Snapchat-style photo scribbling. What sets it apart, however, is the app’s use of a powerful AI – dubbed Google Assistant.

The company explains that the integrated AI in this version of Allo is a “preview” of what’s to come, so expect its reach to expand in further iterations. For now, you can either chat to Google Assistant directly, or summon it by typing @google. Once you’ve got its attention, you can ask it search questions, get you to update calendar information, translate text, find businesses, look up the weather, and a bunch of other tasks.

But the AI goes further than Google Search. For every response it gives, it will suggest other questions. This makes the interaction feel more like a two-way conversation, and less like you’re barking search orders at a machine. So far this service is only available in English, with other languages to come soon.

At the time of writing, the app is available for ‘Pre-register’ on the Google Play Store, and on the App Store, but Google has said it will be available worldwide over the next few days. We’ll update you with more information when it appears. 

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