Allo, Google’s smart new messaging application, was announced at Google I/O 2016 with a few privacy-focused tricks up its sleeve. End-to-end encrypted messages, expiring chats and private notifications in a dedicated incognito mode were just some of the security features Google talked about on stage. Also mentioned by Google was the fact that Allo, instead of storing users’ messages on Google’s servers indefinitely, would only store messages transiently.
Unfortunately with today’s Allo release, Google is abandoning one of those key security features.
According to The Verge, the version of Allo that’s rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages indefinitely on Google’s servers by default. The messages will stay on Google’s servers until the user deletes them manually. Plus, this decision will also allow law enforcement to access Allo messages as long as they have a warrant. It’s the same deal with Hangouts, Gmail and Android location data.
The version of Allo that's rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages indefinitely on Google's servers
Google isn’t doing this to be the bad guy. Storing users’ chats will help make features like the Google Assistant or Smart Reply much better in the long run. These two new features work better with more data, so the boost in user data was apparently worth giving up some privacy benefits.
You can still take advantage in end-to-end encrypted chats in Allo’s incognito mode. These messages aren’t stored on Google’s servers, and they’ll only be seen by you and the person you’re talking to. It’s important to note that since Google doesn’t have access to incognito chats, you won’t get to use Smart Reply or Google Assistant.