Sunday , 25 February 2018

Messaging Showdown: WhatsApp vs. iMessage vs. Facebook Messenger vs. Allo

Messaging apps are a dime a dozen, so it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Big-name companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and others are now investing heavily in messaging apps, resulting in a competitive market that’s as fierce as it is confusing — that is, if you don’t know where to look or what you’re doing.

Apple’s iMessage got a substantial face lift with the release of iOS 10, with a greater level of personalization and ease-of-use. Now, Google has entered the fray with a new messaging app that aims to compete. How does Google’s Allo hold up in comparison to the other widely-utilized messaging apps, namely iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp? Let’s take a look.


The ability to send a message via an app is fairly commonplace in this day and age. To differentiate themselves, iMessage and Messenger have consistently looked to let users better express themselves in their correspondences. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would be greatly expanding its emoji library to to better reflect gender and skin tones. Facebook plans on including more variety when it comes to gender roles within its emoji library, including female emojis that depict a police officer, a swimmer, and a surfer. Messenger also supports GIFs and stickers.
At WWDC 2016, Apple doubled down on its commitment to stay ahead of the curve on personalization, in light of the current emojis arms race. Apple’s iMessage utilizes an automatic “emojification” option — simply click the emoji keyboard button and iMessage will highlight all of the “emojifiable” words in your message. By clicking on the highlighted words, you can easily convert the words into emojis. Emojis are also three times as big as they are now, meaning we can finally send emojis in peace knowing that our parents will no longer have to search for their “readers” in order to decipher our unnecessary correspondence of simulacrum. This could also be seen as a direct response to Facebook Messenger’s use of larger stickers.

iMessage also has an array of other new features, too, including handwritten messages and sketches, option to send your location, full-screen effects, as well as so-called “bubble effects.” Furthermore, the company has opened up iMessage to developers, and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of apps to help people personalize their iMessage.

Google’s latest messaging entry, Allo, also focuses a lot on personalization. Apart from a wide variety of curated stickers, you can scribble on photos, send standard Android emojis, photos, videos, and your location. GIFs are supported, though there’s no effective way to find and send them within the app. You can also make your text larger and smaller.

Many features that would help Allo compete against Messenger and iMessage aren’t available yet, however. Third-party integration, which would allow the user to do things like book a restaurant within the app, hasn’t arrived yet, though it’s expected to come soon.

But the bread and butter of Allo is Google Assistant, which is still in its Preview Edition. Assistant is an artificially-intelligent bot that gets smarter the more you interact with it. It’s the epitome of personalization, because it can remember your name, your favorite color, when you want to receive news and weather notifications, your favorite sports teams, and more. It even learns the way you type and offers up Smart Replies, allowing you to save some time when sending a response.

Still, even with Assistant, which is still a little rough around the edges, Allo isn’t as feature-packed or privy to customization and personalization — at least compared to iMessage and Facebook Messenger. That can change when Google launches third-party integration, and Assistant comes out of preview.

Personalization is one of the many areas in which WhatsApp simply cannot compete. The app may be the most popular messaging app on the face of the Earth, but the extent of message personalization is exceedingly limited. Emojis and stickers are not directly built into the WhatsApp, though emoticon support is available for use on the iPhone if you’re using the emoji keyboard. This is accessible by simply going to your Settings and then adding the emoji keyboard.



It appears as though Facebook has lofty intentions to monetize Messenger and broaden its scope beyond the realm of basic messaging. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Lyft so that customers could utilize the service via Messenger, and soon afterward, Facebook announced that it would be launching a Spotify playlist-sharing app for Messenger. Similarly, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have partnered with Facebook, allowing flight updates to be sent directly to passengers through Messenger. In April, Facebook even launched Messenger chatbots, which enable users to interact with businesses from within the app. These “bots” offer an array of features, allowing users to book a hotel, view the latest headlines, and perform a range other actions.  The service now has more than 11,000 bots.

Messenger is accessible on a wide variety of platforms, such as Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and the web, allowing it to have more than a billion users.
Apple seems keen on utilizing the cross-app capacity of iMessage. Thanks to iOS 10, users are able to play and share music from directly within iMessage. Other apps, like Square Cash and DoorDash, allow users to perform more tasks without ever having to leave a conversation. iMessage is only available on iOS and MacOS.
Allo essentially brings Google search into conversations. You can call the Assistant to ask it anything, play a game, set a reminder, and eventually ask it to order you food. The latter isn’t possible until Google launches third-party integration, but the company demoed a few at its developer conference, so we know they’re on the way. Allo’s downside is that it’s currently only available on iOS and Android — there’s no web client.

Comparatively, WhatsApp is on the outside looking in on this one. For the most part, sharing on WhatsApp demands an array of third-party apps to complete a given task. Alone, WhatsApp simply cannot function in this capacity. While Apple, Google, and Facebook are looking to cash in from an array of business ties, WhatsApp has never been focused on generating profits. WhatsApp doesn’t actually make any money at the moment, primarily because the app was never built on an ad-based platform.

WhatsApp’s greatest strength is that you can use it on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Nokia S60, BlackBerry, Windows PC, and Mac. It’s no wonder it has more than a billion users.


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