Google finally made good on their promise of releasing their much talked-about new messaging app Allo and today, albeit gradually, the app has been made available to users in North America with the rest of the world to follow soon.
Leading tech blogs and publications have already made good coverage of Allo however I’ve noticed a couple of stories that seems to be in conflict over an important feature of Google’s new messaging app: are conversations or chat history in Allo stored by Google or not?
First up, Android Central’s nice run down of Allo and phone numbers which says:
What happens to my chat history and group chat memberships when I switch phones?
When you sign into Allo on a new phone, your group chat memberships — but not your chat history — will go with you. Allo chats live on your device, not in Google’s cloud, and there’s currently no way to back up chat history, like there is with WhatsApp. (Any undelivered messages will appear on your new device, however.)
It’s a pretty major oversight, and a feature we’d expect to be added to Allo before long.
Which is fine as it gives an added layer of safety for those who are concerned about their privacy and uncomfortable with the idea of their conversations being stored in a server that someone else could have access to beside Google, like the hackers and the government.
But then this piece The Verge completely says the opposite:
When Allo was announced at Google’s I/O conference earlier this year, the messaging app was presented as a step forward for privacy. Alongside the end-to-end-encrypted Incognito Mode, the Allo team talked about bold new message retention practices, storing messages only transiently rather than indefinitely.
But with the release of the app today, Google is backing off on some of those features.
The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default — a clear change from Google’s earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Allo’s Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement.
The reason behind is simple: the AI that powers the Assistant in Allo works more effectively if it has a user’s chat history as it ‘learns’ from it. So the conversations or chat history is stored in Google’s servers. Which can be accessed by hackers if there would be a security breach or if Google is issued a subpoena in case an Allo user becomes the subject of a government investigation. I guess that’s the price we pay for having an app that can help us out in a smart way.
Am I the only who has noticed these conflicting reports or am I just missing something?