Google announced new communication apps at Google I/O 2016 and Allo is one of them. It’s a pretty powerful app that has features like the artificial intelligence-powered Google Assistant. The company also talked up Allo’s privacy credentials which include an end-to-end-encrypted Incognito Mode as well as a new message retention practice which involved storing messages only transiently instead of indefinitely. Google has publicly released Allo today and it has also reneged on this privacy feature.
Google previously said that Allo will only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form, however, the version of Allo that has been released today stores all non-incognito messages by default.
These messages will exist until the user does not manually delete them which means that Google is going to have access to the entire history of conversations in Allo. The only remedy users have here is to simply use Incognito Mode all the time which remains end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from how it was first presented at Google I/O 2016.
The company says that it has reneged on this privacy feature to improve the assistant’s smart reply feature in Allo, the feature automatically suggests responses to a conversation. Like all machine learning systems, the more data it gets the better it becomes.
Google decided to prioritize performance improvement from storing messages permanently over the privacy benefits that transient storage offers. What do you think about it, was Google right to go back on its word?