Google’s Allo chat app isn’t blowing up the app charts (not that it ever really did), and part of the reason might be that it’s limited to a single device. Google had the admirable instinct to create an app with a “mobile first” mentality, basing the app on phone numbers instead of Google accounts. That made setup easier and potentially could have helped the app spread, but it also meant that you could only use it on your phone. Not having a desktop client seriously hurt Allo’s chances among early adopters who, it turns out, have laptops.
Apparently Google has heard the feedback, because its VP of Communications, Nick Fox, just tweeted out a screenshot of a desktop web app for Allo:
What can we glean from this screenshot?
- It’s a Chrome app, not a native Windows or Mac app (but that won’t be a problem for many, especially with excellent utilities like Franz that turn web apps into more usable chat apps).
- It fully supports the Google Assistant bot, both in a direct chat and in your chats with friends. That could make this the first time the Google Assistant comes to the desktop.
- We have no idea of when it will actually launch, but it probably won’t be very soon since it’s “still in early development.”
- Um, what else? Mr. Fox needs has some updates available for his Chrome browser, given the orange three-dot menu in the upper right.
But what we’ve really learned is that Google has realized that for a chat app to succeed, it needs to work on multiple devices. We don’t know yet whether this web app operates like WhatsApp (which essentially pulls its data directly from the mobile app) or if it is connected directly to your Allo information in the cloud (like Hangouts). If it’s the former, chances are Allo will still only work on one phone at a time. If it’s the latter, that would mean Google has built (or is building) the infrastructure necessary to allow you to have the Allo app installed on multiple phones, tablets, and Chromebooks.
We’ve pinged Google for more info on the Allo desktop web app, and we’ll let you know if we hear more.
Thanks to @adammengel for the tip!