Google began rolling out version 23 of Allo yesterday. No feature changes have jumped out at us yet, but there's plenty of material for a teardown. There are more details about the upcoming camera effects for selfies and selfie clips, a new type of attachment, custom support for contact cards shared between people, and more.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Camera effects will be downloaded separately

We've previously covered an assortment of camera effects that will become available in Allo, like icecream on head, bollywood zooms, question marks, and a blur effect. While the occasional icon would pop up for these, there usually weren't any signs the effects were actually present in the app, and now it's clear why that is – they're downloaded separately.

strings
<string name="camera_confused_questions_effect_cancel_asset_download">Cancel asset download for confused question marks effect</string>
<string name="camera_zoom_effect_cancel_asset_download">Cancel asset download for bollywood zooms effect</string>
<string name="camera_blur_effect_cancel_asset_download">Cancel asset download for the blur effect</string>
<string name="camera_icecream_head_effect_cancel_asset_download">Cancel asset download for icecream-on-head effect</string>
<string name="expressive_camera_asset_download_failed">Something went wrong. Tap the effect to try again.</string>
<string name="kaleidoscope_effect_cancel_asset_download">Cancel asset download for the face kaleidoscope effect</string>
<string name="kaleidoscope_effect_toggle">Toggle face kaleidoscope effect</string>

This is consistent with the pattern that's emerging with Allo's various other features. As shown in our recent post about Allo Activities, the add-on features are often downloaded before running.

There are also icons for the kaleidoscope and Bollywood zoom effects.

Attach "generated" scenes

There may be a new type of attachment coming to Allo. A new item was added to the conversation_attachments_view layout, which houses that little attachment bar directly above the input field. The attachment seems to be called a "scene" and seems to be constructed from other images. Just like GIFs, you'll type in a word or phrase to bring up suggested images. Unfortunately, that's about where the details stop.

<string name="scene_generation_attachment_icon_content_description">Start typing for images</string>
<string name="scene_generation_attachment_back_content_description">Exit</string>
<string name="scene_generation_attachment_preview_description">Image preview</string>

New layouts:
/layout/scene_generation_attachment_view.xml
/layout/scene_suggestion_view.xml

In-chat contact cards

A standard format called vCard for storing and sharing contact information has been around since the mid-90s, but you're not going to find very many apps outside of contact managers and email clients that do very much with it. However, Allo might be adding some more elegant integration when you're sharing contact details between friends or business relationships. New text and a layout suggest there may be some work going into supporting vCard beyond simply passing it between users as just another file (pictured below).

The implementation is still limited to placeholders, but a feature like this has a fairly obvious outcome. It should eventually read the vCard file and display the contents, or at least the contact's name and main details, and display them directly in the chat.

<string name="vcard_view_place_holder_text">Vcard Text Holder</string>
<string name="outgoing_contact_card_message_description">You shared a contact card</string>
<string name="incoming_contact_card_message_description">Get contact card shared from the other participant</string>

New layout:
/layout/vcard_attachment_view.xml

The purpose for this is fairly obvious, it removes a reason you might have to switch out to another app to read the vCard. In fact, it will probably go the extra couple of steps to extract the phone number and offer to initiate an Allo chat with the shared contact. Basically, it's there to keep you in Allo as much as possible.

Suggestions for local group chats

Allo will begin suggesting group chats between yourself and others. This is a simple self-promotional feature intended to get people using group chats. The name of the string includes the word 'regional,' which may imply geography will play a role in those suggestions.

<string name="suggested_actions_personalized_group_primary_regional">Start a group chat with</string>

Transcripts of audio messages are almost ready

If you're looking forward to the audio message transcripts feature we uncovered in the last teardown, it looks like it's probably coming soon. A few additions were made to this update, including a promo line that clearly states it's a new feature. These promotional lines are often added shortly before a feature is ready to launch. Sometimes they will appear long in advance, but that's fairly rare.

strings
<string name="audio_transcription_tooltip">New! Transcripts let you read voice messages. Turn off in settings.</string>
<string name="failed_to_get_transcription">Transcript not available</string>

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 23.0.024_RC06

Google Allo
Google Allo
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free