The first major update to Google Allo is here. Version 2.0 brings a whole batch of improvements, many of which might give you reason to take another look at Allo if you’ve yet to give it a try.
But before you get too excited: SMS/MMS messaging is not one of them.
For those using Android 7.1, there’s now an app shortcut to launch into a new conversation. There aren’t shortcuts yet for specific conversations like you get on Google’s Messenger SMS app, however.
Several other features that exist in other messaging apps are making their debut in Allo 2.0. Now when you use the Android sharing menu your frequent contacts will appear.
And you can now go crazy with GIFs. You’ll access them just as with any other app, though don’t worry about sending any to the Google Assistant just yet. This’ll just confuse it. There's also support for the GIF keyboard.
Allo also plays better with Android Wear, allowing you to draw an emoji or respond with your voice.
Allo project lead Justin Uberti offered a changelog as well. He’s pretty active on Twitter, even responding to feature requests:
Allo 2.0 relnotes (Android):
• App shortcuts
• N quick reply
• N multi-window
• GIF keyboard
• a11y mode
• Incognito key alerts
— Justin Uberti (@juberti) October 26, 2016
The impact on you: These are nice additions if you’ve been using Allo, bringing in features that are necessary for it to be a viable contender. However, the future of messaging ubiquity here in the U.S. is probably through Rich Communication Services, as the most identifiable way to reach people is still through their phone number.