Google is switching up the emoji shortcut button on its Allo chat app. Now, instead of just bringing up the emoji keyboard, the “Smart Smiley” button will bring up a list of suggested emoji and stickers that are relevant to what you’re typing. For now, the feature will only work with English.
It’s an extension of Allo’s prediction algorithm, which so far has been used to give you suggested one-tap replies to text messages that are based on the way that you actually chat. Those “suggestion chips” will also contain emoji and stickers now, too.
Google is also taking full advantage of its #brand relationship with the new Harry Potter movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with a new sticker pack. There are also new themes for chats if you don’t like the standard bubble background.
All these features are nice, I suppose, and the emoji suggestions are an example of Google leaning on its AI strengths. But they’re very far from the features that people want most from Allo. Multi-device support probably tops that list for most users, but perhaps a more important feature would be stronger default privacy protections. Allo does have an incognito mode, but the company recently reneged on a promise that it wouldn’t permanently store default conversation logs on its servers.