Google promises to release a new messenger

Published on May 20, 2016

Google promises to release a new messenger

    Google announced the release of a new messenger called Allo, the concepts of which were presented at the last Google I / O 2016 conference. The application for smartphones will allow convenient text messaging between users. The release of Allo is scheduled for this summer, the application itself will be free and will only be available for Google Android and Apple iOS mobile platforms. According to Google, Allo will not replace the existing messengers of the company, for example, Hangouts, but simply complement them. Another application of the company - Duo, will also allow you to make video calls.



    The app has already received a number of negative reviews from recognized security experts such as Edward Snowden , Christopher Soghoian and Graham Cluley. We are talking about end-to-end encryption, which in Allo is optional and is activated only in a special incognito mode. Thus, by default, Google will be able to store user correspondence data on its servers and provide special services with access to them. Recall that earlier, end-to-end encryption by default acquired such popular instant messengers as WhatsApp and Viber, which use the technologies of Signal's authors - Open Whisper Systems.


    Fig. The interface of the Allo application on a smartphone. (The Verge data)

    Google calls Allo a “smart messenger”, as it contains some functions that are quite exclusive for instant messengers. For example, by typing the word "@google", an application user will be able to instantly access company services in the application itself, for example, to search. The messenger will also be able to attach the user “smart answers” ​​to the question from the other side. Such responses from a smart assistant will include links to photos stored on the device.



    Meanwhile, one of the authors of Allo expressed his point of view that Google may also think about integrating end-to-end encryption by default later, but only if this does not affect the usability of the user with the new messenger.

    This is why I think end-to-end encryption is not an end in itself, but rather a means to a real end which is disappearing messages. End-to-end encryption without disappearing messages doesn't cover all the risks a normal user could face, but disappearing messages without end-to-end encryption is an illusion. Users need both to have privacy in a way that matters to them.



    Earlier, in our previous posts, we already wrote about the end-to-end encryption functions in various messengers and explained what caused this need. The hype that forced the vendors to step up measures related to data encryption was caused by the revelations of the fugitive NSA agent Edward Snowden, who pointed out the possibility of intelligence services to access users' personal data.

    In an end-to-end encryption scheme, data is sent directly between two devices, and private keys intended for message decryption are stored on the devices themselves and no one except the users themselves can access them. This method significantly complicates the access of special services to the correspondence data, since they are not stored on the intermediate server of the service and the latter cannot decrypt them with its internal key. Server services companies only store data about public keys that are used by parties to send messages.

    Viber received encrypted end-to-end by default
    habrahabr.ru/company/eset/blog/283010

    Messenger WhatsApp has got a full end-to-end encryption by default
    habrahabr.ru/company/eset/blog/281014

    Belgian special services used WhatsApp due to terrorist attacks
    habrahabr.ru/company/eset/blog/280330

    Law enforcers took on WhatsApp
    habrahabr.ru/company/eset/blog/279205

    Apple hired the author Signal
    habrahabr.ru/company/eset/blog/ 278053



    More information about the new messenger can be found in the article The Verge , as well as on the official Google website googleblog.blogspot.ru/2016/05/allo-duo-apps-messaging-video.html .