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Google Allo is clearly one of the most audacious apps to be released by the company in recent times. Not only is it a departure from what Google has long been invested in doing with Hangouts, but it's also trying to catch up in one swift release with competing messaging apps that have been around the block for many years and have had time to perfect their approach.
So it seems logical that the Allo team got some "inspiration" from other messaging services. I can think of a couple of reasons why many of the screenshots we've obtained of Allo eerily resemble WhatsApp — and maybe other messaging apps too (I wouldn't know, I only use WhatsApp so it's the only one I can compare these against). Either the Allo team really liked the way WhatsApp handled some things, either it didn't want to waste time trying to reinvent the wheel and decided to focus its efforts on innovating in other areas (Google Assistant), either it felt it best to mimic something that people are already familiar with to create less friction and intimidate new users less.
One aspect where the similarities are most apparent is the voice messaging UI. If you've never used WhatsApp before, the interface will seem very neat to you. And even if you have used WhatsApp, you'll find that Allo's interpretation of it is more refined.
But before we get ahead of ourselves with the comparison, let's first explain how voice messaging works on Allo. The text entry box at the bottom of the screen has a microphone on the right. As soon as you tap it, a blue circle expands out of it and fills the bottom right of the screen. You must keep your finger on the screen while you talk and ss you're recording, you can see the message's duration in the bottom left. When you're happy with your voice message, you just lift your finger and it gets sent, otherwise, you can slide the microphone to the left to cancel.
Here's a gif we've obtained of it in action showing first a recorded and sent message, then a canceled message.
And to those who have never used WhatsApp and are wondering what the inspiration for this interface was, I tried to show the same sequence on WhatsApp on my phone: a recorded and sent 3 second message, followed by a canceled message:
Do you see the similarities?
Allo works exactly like WhatsApp, and the only differences are aesthetic. Allo's interface is a lot cleaner and more modern, while WhatsApp's UI looks crude by direct comparison. However, WhatsApp does have a neat mic-in-the-garbage-bin animation that isn't there in Allo. So far, it seems like there's no very obvious visual clue that a message has been dismissed on Allo, only the subtle animation of the text box returning to normal.
Like always, it's worth noting that we've received these screens from a test preview version of Allo and that we can't be 100% sure that things will look the same upon the app's official release.