Google officially launched its widely anticipated messaging app, Allo, last September.

The App is poised to become a major competitor of the popular WhatsApp and iMessage.

However, former NSA contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden has informed smartphone users to avoid the app due to a number of privacy concerns.

Edward Snowden strongly feels that the smart messaging app could be a honeypot for government surveillance efforts.

It is important to note that Edward Snowden is not the only that holds the same opinion on Google’s new app.

In order to understand the basis of Snowden’s sentiments, one has to understand the nuances of the messaging app.

What is Allo

Google Allo is an instant smart messaging mobile phone app designed for Android and iOS platforms.

The app was announced in May this year at Google I/O developer conference.

As promised, Google launched the app officially on the 21st September.

Among the main features of the app include a virtual assistant and the “smart reply” feature.

The smart reply function was developed to facilitate the delivery of fast conversations.

Through artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, the app is able to recognize and analyze the user’s responses.

It collects and stores this data over time and utilizing it to guess users’ responses which it then suggests.

This data may also be kept for formulation of personalized ads. As such, it is possible to use the app without even typing.

The problem with the app and that which Edward Snowden and others are worried about is this collection of user data.

Google also has a part in fueling these sentiments about their messaging app.

When the company first announced the messaging app in May, they assured users that the app’s “Incognito Mode” should cause no worries about privacy concerns.

At the time, Google stated that Allo employs high-end encryption and the messages users send and receive would be stored transiently, rather than permanently.

However, last September’s announcement was different and revealed that the default mode of the app would result in indefinite storage of user messages.

This issue does not sit well with Edward Snowden and many other smartphone users.

It does raise some questions about Google’s promise to delete user messages. Compounding the situation is the fact that Google failed to formally announce this critical change.

The Main Basis of Edward Snowden’s Fears

As it currently stands, Allo users who fail to switch to Incognito Mode bear the risk of having their messages retained.

This could potentially provide fresh farming grounds for government surveillance, something that Edward Snowden is all too familiar with.

As with most chat apps, Allo uses HTTPS as a means to secure transmission between devices.

What this means is the data is safe from most hackers.

However, it is not safe from people with respective clearance to Google’s data centers.

Government agencies can also access this information using a subpoena.

Edward Snowden has always pointed out that subpoenas are not that hard to get.

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approves almost all subpoenas requested by the FBI and NSA.

When Allo is compared to WhatsApp in terms of user privacy, the latter comes out on top.

Conversations in WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted,, and government agencies cannot access them even upon request.

What Allo Users Can Do

Individuals who still want to use Google’s Allo despite Edward Snowden’s warnings can do so privately and securely by learning about the Incognito Mode. VPNs can also help.

In this mode, users will not be able to preview their message in the conversation list.

Also, the chats are end-to-end encrypted and will only be seen by the sender and recipient.

Google will not be able to read any of the messages, so the smart replay and Google assistant features are unavailable in Incognito Mode. Users can set their messages to expire.

Edward Snowden’s views are definitely founded on a considerable basis.

As such, the decision of smartphone users to adopt Google’s messaging app boils down to choice.

They will have to choose between limited compromise to their privacy and improved app usability.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Search Engine

Siri, Cortana and Alexa are virtual assistants with female personas — though Siri can be a man, too. Until today, Google voice search didn’t have an identity or persona, though it has a female voice.

That is changing with theofficial rollout of Google Home. For the launch of Home, Google took its voice search capabilities and added a persona. So instead of calling Google’s spoken results Google Now, Ok Google or Google voice search, it/she will now be the “Google Assistant,” which is not quite a human-sounding name, but better and more descriptive than Google Now.

Like Amazon, Google will have devices (e.g., Home, Pixel phones) and products (e.g., Allo) that feature the Assistant the way Amazon has the Echo and Echo Dot, powered by Alexa. All this waspreviewed at Google I/Othis summer. You can interact with the Assistant in more limited form today in Google’s new messaging app, Allo.

This summer, it appeared that Google wasn’t going to use the name “Assistant” for its Google Home voice persona or as a consumer-facing product name. However, it appears the company changed its mind over the past several months. (The assistant will launch as female, but over time, it will offer more voices and potentially, personas.)

According to Ryan Germick, who led the Google Doodles team and helped develop the Assistant’s personality, Google Assistant should be thought of as a kind of friendly companion, “Always there but never in the way; her primary job is to be helpful.”

Like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, Google Assistant will tell jokes and have conversational features to “humanize” and make Google “more approachable.” One of the advantages that Google has with the Assistant over its rivals is its search index and knowledge graph. However, Germick said that there may be instances where Google Home will not provide a result, other than reading back a list of search results.

Germick explained that in creating the Assistant’s personality, Google utilized “storytellers” from Pixar and The Onion, among others, to craft scripted answers to a broad range of questions. Presumably, this is where the humor will show up. However, over time, there may also be “AI jokes” (We’ll see).

“Fun in, fun out,” Germick added. That means users will need to prompt the Assistant for jokes or snark, which won’t happen unsolicited. But that’s apparently happening quite a bit in Allo (e.g., “What is the meaning of life?”).

Germick called the Google Assistant a “beautiful marriage of technology and scripting.” The proof will be in the user experience — though what we saw demoed today was impressive to me — and undoubtedly, we’ll see numerous side-by-side comparisons of the Google Assistant with its competitors when Home formally comes out November 4. (Apple isalso rumoredto be working on a standalone Siri-powered smart home device.)

For now, we have the video released at I/O, showcasing the Google Home user experience.

Source : searchengineland

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Allo was officially launched this month, and many of us in the search community are wondering how it’s going to affect search, as you can use @google to search by command or text question right within your conversations with one or a group of people.

With over 150K downloads so far on Android devices, a 4-star rating, and 48 percent in an Android Authority poll saying that they use and love Allo, it’s time to contemplate how it could affect organic and local search.

Optimize For Local Search With Reviews

Using the Google Assistant right in Allo allows you to search for specific results on things you’re interested in, like your travel plans, news, local businesses, and more.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

Click to enlarge

To get a better chance of being shown in search results for local commands (or where people are looking for service), it looks like reviews and distance to certain businesses are King. Many of my attempts to find local services either near me or my metropolitan area always brought up businesses that have more than 4-star reviews (out of 5).

A Short Guide to Google Allo Optimization

Click to enlarge

This means that local reviews are more important than ever. Be sure to verify all your profiles on sites like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other review sites for your industry.

Optimize For Voice Commands

You can also search in the Google Assistant conversation (not in the conversations you have with others, that is only through text commands) with voice, like you do with Google Now. Aleh Barysevich does a good job of summarizing how to properly optimize for voice search in apps like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana.

The main point in Aleh’s article that is still applicable to Google Allo is that people search for things differently in voice than they do when typing into their regular search engine. It is much more conversational, while also more focused on keywords at the same time. For instance, a voice command is much more likely to be “Where is a Chinese restaurant near me?” versus a text search that might just be “Chinese food.” This is why it’s important to use conversational keywords in your website content.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

To elaborate on the Chinese food example, phrases like “Chinese Buffet in Leawood, Kansas” is going likely do better in text over voice search. Additionally, adding more conversational phrases like “China Star serves Chinese food in Leawood, Overland Park, and Shawnee” may better fit voice searchers’ needs.

Use Rich Snippets

To further elaborate on this, it’s crucial to use rich snippets in your Google Allo SEO efforts. Verve Search has a good overall guide on Microdata and Rich Snippets, and Hall Analysis has a good schema creator tool that’s easy to use. While Rich Snippets aren’t a requirement to good SEO (e.g. you aren’t going to get penalized for not using them), they can help your site’s content get better displayed in search results, which may lead to better Google Allo SEO.

To learn more about what rich snippets you can add to your website, check out schema.org. Once you’ve added it to your site, you can use Google’s free markup verification tool to make sure it is correct. Rich snippets allow you to add additional information that can be displayed in search results, such as menus, reviews, location, hours, and more.

Will AMP Get Preference?

With the news that AMP is now part of organic search results, we can only speculate that Google Allo (a mobile messaging app), will give AMP results preference. AMP results are easier to read because they load faster and have a cleaner interface.

I ran a test on Allo and asked a question I knew would generate me search results: “how to plan the perfect birthday party” after I asked about partying in general (hey, Allo suggested that I should!). Google Allo gave me its top result right in the chat window: a Wikipedia article.

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization

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When I clicked on the “search results” option as the next action, it took me to a list of search results. The WikiHow article that was shown in the app was also an AMP article:

A Short Guide to Google Allo Search Optimization
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Of course, more testing is needed but from using the app, it does look like Allo usually offers AMP articles at the top of their search results when users use Google Assistant.

Optimizing for Google Allo Search is going to be a long road. More time will tell on whether or not Allo is going to become as mainstream as WhatsApp, but for now, focusing on AMP and local SEO can help you get more visibility in user’s mobile searches, no matter what app they are using.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Search Engine

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