The new Allo app has been billed as a rival to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMesssage.

Google has launched the app in the hope that its “smart” abilities will mark it out from the competition. It can auto-reply to messages for you and even boasts an in-app assistant called “@google” that you can use to carry out certain tasks, writes Cara McGoogan for The Telegraph.

Google Allo

Machine learning software used in new Allo messaging app

Allo is available on both iOS and Android, and uses machine learning software to generate suggested responses to certain messages. This feature improves over time as the software gets to know how a particular user expresses themselves.

Artificial intelligence is also used in the @google assistant, which can provide restaurant and flight information, directions or topical information from the news.

“Too often we have to hit pause on our conversation – whether it’s to check the status of a flight or look up that new pizza joint,” said Google. “We wanted to create a messaging app that could help you keep the conversation going, suggesting responses while you’re on the go and providing information you need to help you get things done.”

Google taking on messaging world with Allo

You can sign up to Allo even if you don’t have a Google account by using a mobile phone number. After you’ve downloaded the app you need to grant it access to your contacts before starting a conversation.

Chat modes include normal messages, a conversation with the @google assistant, and “incognito chats” that boast end-to-end encryption. Messages sent in incognito mode will automatically disappear.

You can send images, video, voice messages and stickers, just like in other messaging apps. To start a conversation with the virtual assistant, being your message with @google.

Suggested replies will appear by default, and should get better the more you use the app. This will save you time when replying to simple messages.

“Whether you’re a ‘haha’ or ‘lol’ kid of person, Smart Reply will improve over time and adjust to your style of conversation,” said Google.

Will this be the most successful Google messaging app yet?

This Smart Reply feature also works with image recognition. It can tell the difference between different animals and offer responses based on what it sees.

You can also play around with images that you send, scribbling on them and sending custom-designed stickers. It’s also possible to send smaller or larger text messages. These more playful features have previously been seen in Apple’s latest iMessage and Facebook Messenger.

This is not the first time that Google has tried to make a messaging app. However this time around the app is aimed at social users, rather then office workers who tended to use Google Hangouts via their Gmail accounts. The smart assistant is a nifty feature and could attract users from other messaging platforms. It will allow you to integrate outside information into conversations easily and quickly.

This seems to be the prevailing direction in messaging, with the advent of third-party apps for Apple iMessage and the use of bots in Facebook Messenger. However at this stage Allo’s @google looks to be the most useful.

Another positive is the fact that Allo is available on iOS, Android and with a phone number. This could boost accessibility, but Google still needs to convince people to download the app.

Apple iMessage is pre-installed on every iOS device, handing it a huge advantage. At the same time both Facebook and WhatsApp have more than a billion active users each, so the competition should not be taken lightly.

Download the app yourself from this Wednesday.