Sam - October 1, 2016
Google Allo was released recently but despite impressive download figures, there have been many concerns about the app’s privacy settings.
The app uses your data and conversations to power its advanced artificial intelligence technology, was released recently.
Numerous articles were written and concerns raised as soon as the app was released and this all came to a head when Edward Snowden suggested the privacy settings were so poor that nobody should use the app.
This concern is the latest in a long line of concerns about the way modern technology companies use your data to improve their technology, offer new services, and sell advertising.
The main concerns with the app are over the fact that conversations between users are stored permanently on Google’s servers. While not an uncommon practice, it can be extremely worrying for people who like to keep their conversations private.
What perhaps makes this story even more controversial was that in a previous announcement Google had promised that it would only store conversations temporarily. The previously mentioned end-to-end encryption on chats made through the app , available on chat apps such as Whatsapp”, is also missing.
What makes Google Allo different to other messaging apps is that its artificial intelligence can make suggestions to you while you are chatting. For example, if you mention meeting a friend at a cafe, Google Allo will automatically show a list of nearby cafes.
It also has a power predictive text feature that can study your message patterns and accurately guess what you might be about to say.
Google argues that it needs to collect your data to make these features work and as such make its product more efficient and helpful. As with most AI platforms, the more data it has to work with, the better its suggestions will be.
Users may well be comforted by the fact that Google does give them the option to delete messages they have sent and received during the app. It also offers an incognito mode that will not save any of your messages and will also offer full end-to-end encryption on anything said using this feature.
However, using the incognito mode too often means you will not get the full benefit of the artificial intelligence features of the app.
In the end, the success of Google Allo will likely come down to how much users value their privacy over the features on offer.