Updates to Google's Duo, Allo, and Photos apps bring small but important features

Google came packed with a bunch of announcements at its Google for Brazil event, but you don’t need to live in Rio de Janeiro to benefit from them. In addition to the new location sharing in Maps, Google is also rolling out updates to its Duo, Allo, and Photos apps, bringing some long-awaited features.

First up is Duo. While the focus of the app had been on video chatting, Google will now let you make audio calls too. According to Google, “Duo audio calls work well on all connection speeds and won’t eat up your data.”

Also getting an anticipated new feature is Allo, one of its many chat apps. For the first time, users will be able to share documents and other files (.pdf, .docs, .apk, .zip, and mp3) inside conversations. And for users in Brazil, Google is adding a Smart Smiley in Portuguese, which “uses machine learning to help you find the right emoji faster. Tap the Smart Smiley icon on the compose bar, and the app will suggest relevant emojis and stickers to help you finish your thought.”

And there’s new stuff for Photos too. In the Android app your photos will now back up automatically in a “lightweight preview quality” so you won’t have to manually upload photos when you’re not on Wi-Fi. Then, when a strong connection returns, they will be replaced with high-quality versions. However, Google says the lesser quality images will “still look great on a smartphone.”

In addition to backups, Google is also making it easier for both iOS and Android users to share photos when your connection is spotty. When you try to send a batch of photos with only one bar, Google will send them in low resolution so they’re sure to go through. Then, like the backups, the images will update in higher resolution when a strong connection returns.

The updates will all be rolling out to both the Android and iOS versions of the apps this week.

Why this matters: While none of the updates here are particularly revolutionary, it’s great to see Google adding important features to its core apps. Photos just keeps getting better and better, but if it wants Allo and Duo to be the default messaging and calling apps on Android one day, they will need basic features like these first. So keep ‘em coming, Google.

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