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Google Allo doesn't seem to have a backup or cloud sync function (in the preview version)

I don't know what to think of this one. Of all the Allo features we've discussed so far, many are cool, some are interesting, and few are controversial. But the lack of a cloud save or backup/restore function? I am not on board with that, and I doubt anyone can justify it. But here goes.

In the preview test version of Allo that we've been getting our information from, the app seems to be very forgetful with all of your history. Whether you uninstall the app and reinstall it on the same phone, perform a device restore and have to install it again, move your SIM card to a new phone and need to authenticate Allo there, almost nothing sticks or carries around.

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Google Allo's incognito chats have Snapchat-like expiring messages, private notifications, and encryption keys

The nice graphic you see above is the background of all your incognito conversations on Google Allo. It's one of the visual cues the app uses to let you differentiate between a regular chat and an incognito one. But what are these more secure chats and how exactly do they work?

Based on information we've obtained from a test preview version of Allo, here is what you should expect.

First, these chats are end-to-end encrypted (we've known they'll be using the Signal protocol for a while) with unique identity keys for each participant. One of the side effects of encryption is that Google Assistant doesn't work in them.

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Instagram reaches 1 billion installs on the Play Store, the 19th app to do so

The latest app to join the rather exclusive 1 billion club on Google Play is... drumroll please... Instagram. This is quite surprising when estimates only put the number of accounts at 500 million, but I guess the downloads counter doesn't differentiate between unique installs or not. Either way, it scares me that Facebook owns the two biggest social networks in the world.

After the Facebook app, then WhatsApp, then Messenger, Instagram is the fourth of Facebook's apps to get 1 billion installs. Again, scary. Getting 1 billion installs is no easy feat - especially since at the last count Android only had 1.4 billion users.

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[Revolutionary] Google Allo will let you search all of your conversations... inside the app

One thing has always annoyed me about Hangouts: there's no search option. How can you have a messaging service and not allow people to search through their conversations inside the service?! That's beyond comprehension. Of course there's a way to circumvent it by searching through chats in Gmail. But that neither was intuitive nor made sense unless you were familiar with the feature.

According to screenshots we've received from a test preview version of Allo, Google's new messaging app doesn't suffer from that silly limitation. Search is well implemented and it's universal throughout the app. There's a search icon on the top right of the main screen that lets you look for a contact/group's name (in case you have lots of chats and need to quickly find a specific person/group) or any word(s) inside a chat.

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Weekend poll: Are you using Google Duo? Do you like it?

The visual half of Google's two new communication apps, Duo, is now out for basically everybody. We're curious: are you using it? How are you liking it so far? Things to commend? To complain about? To suggest? That one thing you think would make Duo into a killer video chat app?

Let's talk about it.

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[Update] Media sharing on Allo: GIFs, compression, annotation, and some limitations

When talking to a contact on Google's upcoming Allo messaging application, there are a few different types of attachments you can send. We've already discussed voice messages and stickers, but you can also share your current location, a photo or video taken instantly with your camera, and also media files taken from your camera roll. Unfortunately, sending other types of files like music or documents doesn't seem to be possible - at least not with the test preview version of the app that we're basing this information on.

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Google Allo's voice messaging interface looks awesome, with an eery resemblance to WhatsApp's

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).

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PSA: You can control YouTube playback with OK Google voice commands

Google Now has a tendency to add voice commands without most people noticing. Besides the few listed in-app, Google hides most of its commands, perhaps the most useful ones. For example, Google's voice actions have been integrated and implemented within YouTube, so you can control video playback with your mi... wait, no that's the next update.

To get started, just start playing any video in the YouTube app. Then you can use any of these voice commands, triggered by the "OK Google" keyword, provided you have enabled its detection from any screen:

  • "Pause" - Pauses the video.
  • "Play" - Resumes the video.
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Friday app and game sales: Unified Remote, Shadowgun, Punch Club, and more

The weekend is upon us, and I'm sure you have all sorts of plans out in the real world with people. You would never just loaf around on the couch and play games on your phone all weekend. Hypothetically, if you were to do that, you'd be interested in the sales we've rounded up here. Maybe you should look... in case all those big plans fall through.

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