I love the idea of intelligent assistants aiding me in tasks like finding a table at a restaurant when I’m coordinating dinner with someone. What struck me as wrong, though, was Google’s choice to implement this feature, not as an assistant inside the Allo user interface, but as a third “person” in the conversation. All of a sudden, a conversation between the couple going out for a romantic dinner has an extra participant in between the two of them.
This is a subtle distinction, and I can appreciate that people might not have a problem with it, but I think it suggests a lack of subtlety and understanding of human nature on Google’s part. Just as I don’t want to pose while I’m waiting for someone to answer my call, I don’t want my private conversations with human beings interrupted by a robot participant. I want my phone, and the assembled brainpower of the Google cloud, to aid me, to make me look smarter when I’m texting. I don’t want it to butt in. (In the I/O demo of Allo, a Google representative actually refers to the two-person dinner planning session between Amit and Joy as a “group conversation.”)