Last week saw the release of the much-anticipated ‘Google Allo’.

Well, I say much-anticipated - it is for the Google/Android fans and tech-insiders. You’d not be blamed, however, for having no idea what I’m talking about, so allow me to explain (no attempt at an “Allo’w’ pun there).

Today, most smartphone users use a wide variety of messaging applications.

SMS - or text messages - once the pinnacle of mobile instant messaging are now almost obsolete to most. It is now internet-based messaging applications that fire out the most mobile messages - and there are a lot to choose from.

From WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger, WeChat to Line, Viber to Skype and so on. Deciding which to choose from, for a beginner, can be quite a daunting task. Generally, though, once a user finds a platform they like, it’s the one they stick with. For me, it’s WhatsApp (at least since divorcing BlackBerry and their once-everywhere BlackBerry Messenger platform many years ago).

WhatsApp is, for the most part, the most popular cross-platform messaging app. Now wholly owned by Facebook after Mr Zuckerberg purchased the app for a whopping $15bn back in 2014, and with an almost-incomprehensible 30 billion messages sent per day, and over 1 billion pictures, it’s sometimes hard to imagine we still have time for other messaging apps. And yet we do. Facebook’s own ‘Messenger’ (surprisingly also owned by Facebook) sends almost as many. And as I said, these are just two of literally hundreds of choices. And still more appear on the Android and iOS app stores all the time.

The newest kid on the block is ‘Allo’. What’s so big about Allo? Well, this one is made by Android’s owner Google; creator of, well, most things nowadays.

Now this is far from Google’s first attempt at stealing the messaging market. Its past iterations have varied from okay to just plain terrible. Its most recent, prior to Allo, was Google Hangouts. What started as a nice idea soon became a bit of a nightmare. Slow, clunky, unreliable (and for a brief period even sending messages to the wrong recipients), Hangouts now sits on the shelf, gathering dust and used predominantly by business users.

Earlier in the year, at Google’s annual I/O event, it announced its new attempt: Allo, along with its sister app (for video-calling) Duo, and a few others big announcements. They promised both apps by the end of the summer. Duo launched back in August and was, on the whole, well-received. Cutting it fine to reach the promised deadline, Allo began its launch rollout last week on September 21st, hitting the UK a few days later.

So what makes Allo any different from WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the rest?

One of its biggest features being that it’s made by Google: a name trusted by many and loved by some (also feared for being a potential candidate for the real-life SkyNet at some point in the future). That being said, it does hold a few tricks up its sleeve; it has a ‘Preview Edition’ of Google’s upcoming ‘Google Assistant’ - an artificial intelligence (AI) robot that aims to improve on the successful ‘Google Now’ AI that’s featured in its Android smartphones for the past few years.

It’s also Google’s first messaging app that’s been based on a user’s mobile number rather than Google account - meaning it is, for now, only available on a smartphone (and not on the web, like previous iterations, as well as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger).

Users can converse with Google’s AI bot in the app, asking it questions and even playing games. Users can also utilise the bot mid-conversation with friends, asking it questions such as “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow in London”, “What’s the latest score” or “Find us Greek restaurants in Seattle”.

Other features include being able to hold self-destructing ‘Incognito’ chats (providing end-to-end encryption for ultimate privacy and security - a feature offered in all chats on WhatsApp), the ability to send (and even draw all over) pictures and a few more.

But is Allo really any different from any other messaging app out there on the market today? The answer is, ultimately, not really. It’s a very slick, smooth and reliable messaging app, but it doesn’t really offer anything blindingly different so far. Naturally, this is just the very first version, and features will come and go as Allo’s evolution moves forward, but so far, it’s just a another drop in the ocean.

It also carries with it heavy warnings from some security experts, including Edward Snowden, that even its heavily-encrypted ‘Incognito Mode’ is still within the grasp of security agencies. But then, so do most popular web-based messaging apps.

For me, I will continue to use and trial Allo as it progresses through its lifecycle. But will others catch on? It’s hard to say. I’m confident I could ask a hundred people in Glasgow tomorrow if they were using ‘Allo’ and ninety nine of them would ask me what ‘Allo’ was, and then WhatsApp their friend asking if they knew. In my opinion, Google needs to put a lot of time and money into marketing the app to, well, everyone, to get it known and get people giving it a shot. Failing that, it runs the risk of joining its predecessors in a long line of failed Google messaging attempts (may they rest in peace).