Google Allo vs. Hangouts: How Do They Compare?

google allo vs hangouts

How does Google Allo compare to Hangouts? (Getty)

Google just released its new messaging app, Allo, and it’s already getting mixed reviews. When comparing Allo to Hangouts, some users are disappointed that the features of Allo weren’t simply added to Hangouts, an app people were already using, rather than creating an entire new app. For example, if Google Assistant could have been added to Hangouts instead of creating a new app, that would have been preferable to many users. Meanwhile, others feel that Allo is more accessible to every-day users. What are some other comparisons between the two apps? How does Allo hold up to Google’s other messaging system, Hangouts?

Here’s what you need to know.

Contacts Pulled from Your Phone vs. Mail Account

There’s one area where Allo really outshines Hangouts. Hangouts must be connected to your Google account to work, while Allo only requires your phone number. So that’s one advantage for people, especially less tech savvy users, when it comes to Allo. Whereas Hangouts pulls your contacts from your Google Mail account, Allo pulls them from your mobile device’s phone book/address list. You don’t have to manually add people to Allo like you do with Hangouts. You can find them through their phone numbers, which you already have.

SMS Integration Lacking in Allo

Users are feeling like Google Allo doesn’t hold up to Hangouts in many ways. On Reddit, one person commented: “What’s the purpose of releasing this app when you could have just added the Google Assistant to Hangouts and kept SMS?” One of the big features that Allo lacks is that it doesn’t integrate with SMS. It can send SMS messages to users who don’t have the app installed, but the messages won’t show that they’re coming from your phone number. It will just show: “44034: NAME (+NUMBER) added you on Google Allo to chat.” And you can’t set it as your default SMS app on Android.

Meanwhile, Hangouts integrates seamlessly with SMS. Just check out the Google Support page on the topic here to see how easily they work together. However, Google has been pulling back on some SMS integrations recently. Back in mid-July, ArsTechnica reported that version 11 of Hangouts removed the ability to display SMS and IMS messages in the same conversation. After the update users could still send and receive SMS messages with Hangouts, but you may have separate conversations based on whether you were chatting through SMS or Hangouts. At the time, some users speculated as to whether this had anything to do with Allo.

Allo Only Works on One Device at a Time

A big problem with Allo as compared to Hangouts is its versatility. Hangouts can be used on mobile devices and computers. Allo doesn’t have a web/computer interface at all, but Google has said it plans to expand Allo to computers at some point in the future. It also appears that, unlike Hangouts, Allo can only be used on one mobile device at a time. According to Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica, if you activate Allo on another device, you’ll lose your name, profile picture, chats, and contacts on the Allo app on the first device.

There’s one more problem with the app not syncing. According to early users, Allo won’t sync your settings and conversations. If you uninstall Allo, you may lose your conversations. This doesn’t happen in Hangouts.

Feature Differences: Allo Has an Assistant, Hangouts Has Video Conferencing

The features offered in Hangouts vs. Allo also differ greatly. Hangouts brings a wealth of features that you just won’t find with Allo, such as video conferencing. (Google’s new app Duo is a video chat app.) Meanwhile, Allo comes with the Google Assistant. and smart replies. Although the Assistant is currently getting mixed reviews, the app will likely be improved over time. According to some users, Allo also has better stickers in messaging than Hangouts. So if that’s important to you, then you might prefer Allo.

The bottom line is that, at least for now, Allo isn’t replacing Hangouts and Hangouts isn’t shutting down. But Google appears not to want its everyday users to pick Hangouts over Allo. Google’s VP of communication products said last month that Hangouts has seen more success in Enterprise, so Hangouts’ focus will likely be more for business users, while Allo is focused more for everyday consumers.

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Hangouts is for the tech savvy. Allo is for the tech unsavvy, mainly the millions of Indians buying their first smartphone.


Hangouts is already what Allo and Duo is. Intergrating the features of both into hangouts would have seemed more logical. It seems like they felt that they HAD TO come out with something new (Or not so much) just to say we have a new product. I was able to get my 63 yr old mother to use hangouts, to introduce another app that does (In her mind) THE SAME THING is beyond reasonable.