Messaging App News: From Google Duo to Snapchat Spectacles

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen quite a few changes in the world of messaging apps. So many, in fact, that it’s becoming difficult to keep up. If you’ve officially tuned out or lost track, stick with me for the next five hundred or so words and I’ll get you all up to speed.


Snapchat Spectacles

Let’s start with the news that your kids have probably been talking about: Snapchat Spectacles. What are Snapchat Spectacles? Well, they’re basically a GoPro for your face. These sunglasses can record up to 30 seconds of video and save it directly to your Snapchat Memories. From there, you can share these snippets on Snapchat.


Snapchat, now known as Snap Inc., will be releasing a limited number of Spectacles at $130 USD this year. I’m interested to see what the kids will think once they’re launched.



In the past couple of weeks, Google has launched not one but two messaging apps. The first is a cross platform video call app called Duo. Duo is similar to Apple’s FaceTime but, unlike FaceTime, works on both Android and iOS devices. Duo also has a great feature, called Knock Knock, that shows you a live preview of the incoming call so you’ll know who’s calling and the mood they’re in before you even answer.


If you like video calling, this app would make a great addition to your arsenal and makes it possible to video call anyone on your contact list, regardless of whether they’re on iOS or Android.



Google’s other new offering is Allo. Allo is a text-based messaging app that integrates Google’s powerful search engine and Google Assistant into messaging. Trying to plan a dinner out with a group of friends? Just ask @Google for recommendations right in the chat window. Google will respond with search results that everyone can see. You can also chat directly with @Google in place of using your browser. The great thing about chatting with Google in this way is that you’re more likely to be conversational and push the boundaries of traditional search queries—the results might surprise you.

So why has Google released two messaging apps at the same time? You might think that these apps would compete for users’ attention and cause confusion in the market, but the strategy is actually brilliant. Google is creating specialized apps that appeal to different users. Users who rely on text-based messaging will find Google Allo to be a useful upgrade to traditional text messaging apps while those who prefer video calls will enjoy Duo. Both groups will benefit from a pure experience free of useless (to them) features.

In addition to Google and Snap’s recent announcements, we’ve also seen Apple’s iMessage get some useful updates. You can get the scoop on those in my iOS 10 roundup.

By Mike Agerbo

October 04, 2016