Google Releases Bitmoji-Like Selfie Animation Tool for Allo
Google has released a new Bitmoji-like tool for Google Allo which uses machine learning systems to automatically generate personalized sticker packs based on your likeness.
As you can see from the above GIF, the new option scans your selfie then automatically builds a sticker pack based on your image. It's like the next level of Bitmoji (which is now owned by Snap Inc.) - through Bitmoji, you create your avatar manually, but Google's version does all the creation work for you, based on your image, which could prove a fun addition and get more people checking out what they look like in Allo-animated form.
But then again, that approach is somewhat risky - for example, people might not like the emphasis the system puts on certain aspects of their features. To ensure they're covering for this as best they can, Google says they've worked with an artistic team to create illustrations representative of a wide variety of features - in fact, Google says the system has the capacity to come up with "more than 563 quadrillion combinations".
But to be safe, there's also a set of customization tools to further enhance and refine your animated avatar if you need.
It's another attempt to put a Snapchat-like spin on their messaging tool - underlining that Snapchat influence, Google notes that they're working on additional animations and options for their new selfie app:
"Allo team is working with a range of artistic voices to help others extend their own voice. This first style that launched today speaks to your sarcastic side but the next pack might be more cute for those sincere moments. Then after that, maybe they'll turn you into a dog."
Turning people into dogs seems like a pretty direct reference to Snapchat - on one hand, Evan Spiegel and Co have to be flattered that their innovations have the attention of two of the biggest tech companies in the world. On the other, that means they're now competing against two of the biggest tech companies in the world, which may not be the ideal situation to grow within.
At the same time, it's difficult to know what, exactly, Google's doing with their Allo messaging app - is this a real push to make messaging a significant part of their business, or is it just a testing ground for their photo and messaging tools?
It seems more likely that Allo is a means to keep up with the Facebook's and Snapchat's of the world, should Google ever need to put more emphasis on such tools. Google's obviously well-aware that messaging is on the rise, and if messaging does become an all-encompassing, multi-purpose communications channel, like Facebook hopes it will, that could, eventually, see Google lose ground in search, as more people conduct more discovery-type activity within messaging apps.
Allo appears to be their way to stay connected on this front - not yet a key point of emphasis, but maybe, if they can start to push it as a more viable option than other messaging tools, or if messaging growth accelerates, it could become a more critical element. In this respect, adding in innovative visual tools like this will be key in connecting with that younger user market.
Google launched Allo back in September, and aside from cool selfie-animations, it also has a range of helpful tools, like smart replies, which can suggest on-tap responses based on your common answers, and even image recognition.
Allo also includes Google Assistant, an immediate, and always available connection to Google search within your message threads, which obviously has significant potential benefits.
It'll take some pretty significant innovations to get users to switch across from their current messaging apps and over to Google Allo, though having it pre-installed on Pixel phones will no doubt help (Google has reportedly shipped around a million Pixels thus far, so not a huge influence as yet).
From a marketing perspective, the addition of Google Assistant, in itself, will be a relevant consideration if the app sees significant take-up (optimizing for assistant search), but there could also be further implications and opportunities if Google gives Allo more attention.
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