[Geekiness] 24 Hours with Google Allo

Google Allo Logo from the Play Store

‘Allo! Have you met Google Allo yet?

In case you haven’t heard, Allo is Google’s WhatsApp killer. Probably a little bit of Facebook’s Messenger too but I digress.

If you want to know more, you can check out Android Authority’s extensive coverage. They’ve done a really good job of highlighting the headline features of Allo and how to use them.

So, how has my 24 hours with Allo been?

Quiet, to say the least. There’s a very simple reason for this: I don’t have a lot of people who are on Allo. Part of this is because Allo is not very widely available, no matter what you read online. If you’re in Malaysia (and I suspect the greater part of South East Asia and beyond), you can only register to be notified on the Google Play Store when it’s available.

Still, the Bear (who’s a Google Fanboy as I am Fangirl) and I have been having fun with Allo. The stickers are cute and adorable, I love being able to shout instead of typing in ALL caps and whisper when I want to, but most of all, I love how it’s integrated movie listings when we talk about movies.

I admit, I did not realise how much I enjoy doodling on pics as much as I do until I had Allo.

That said, it does have a few flaws. I hesitate to use the word “flaw” though, since what I think are flaws can be perceived as preferences by others.

No desktop equivalent

Part of the reason why I love Hangouts so much is because it syncs seamlessly between desktop and mobile. It’s even better than WhatsApp in this respect; the latter requires the phone to have a connection to show your messages, but Hangouts doesn’t. Allo doesn’t have this, so it’s limited to a purely phone experience for now.

Images take up the entire screen

I send the bear a lot of screenshots because Allo’s auto-replies are a delight to behold. However, this can be confusing, because it looks like it’s part of the app. Plus, the thumbnails don’t indicate the part of the image I want to draw attention to – perhaps an option to crop or better delineation of the image would be improve things.

Profile photo requirement

I didn’t like that during registration, the camera was switched on and I was to take a selfie. Not quite the way I envisioned it to work.

Slow Release

It’s not an international release. I’ve seen people in the UK saying that they haven’t been able to download it, which tells you enough about their priorities. My biggest worry is that because of this, interest in Allo dies quickly and we will never see it get enough traction to defeat WhatsApp.

But as I mentioned earlier, there are things I love adore about Allo. And they far outweigh the cons (except for not having enough users, that’s something that needs to be fixed).

Auto-replies OMG

Suffice to say, I’ve been using Google keyboard and other Google products a LOT. It’s anticipated a LOT of my responses to the bear, which has made communicating easier and lazier for me. :P Still, I hope to see it be able to differentiate between lover and friend (ahem!).

Stickers

Yes, this seems to have been lifted straight from Line, but I do like how it gets the point across. Might need a search function but we’ll see.

Doodling on images? Much fun, very LOL

Suffice to say, it’s fun. No I’m not going to show that to you.

Google Assistant is quite helpful

She’s quite good so far at picking up things we’re searching for and showing the results to us. Have yet to try the food ideas, that’s going to be a hoot this weekend.

Youtube integration

I like how if I click on a Youtube link in the chat, the video plays INSIDE the app instead of launching the Youtube app. Very nice.

In terms of functionality, there’s a LOT about Allo that I really love. I think it’s unique and it stands out pretty well in the messaging app scene. What I do find annoying about some of its users are those who insist on turning it into a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger clone. Dude, you do NOT need Gif support. Seriously, that’s really juvenile.

You also don’t need to name mentions in a group chat. I hate that they introduced that in WhatsApp. It’s my most hated feature. Really, I muted the chat for a reason, I don’t need a spammer “acquaintance” suddenly adding me to a group and spamming my name (think Instagram random mentions and you’ll know what I mean).

Also, people who complain about it being activated on multiple devices have probably never used LINE, who started this craze. But please don’t let my bitterness stop you. Go play with Allo. And here’s the APK, if you need it. It’s now available for all!

[Quickie] CM Storm Trigger Typing Test

As you can tell, I have a new toy! For our anniversary this year, the bear presented me with a CM Storm Trigger keyboard. It was on sale at Ultimate Zone and I had been lusting for a fully-lit keyboard for months now. The keys are Cherry MX brown. If you wanna know what I wrote, continue reading.

This is a quick typing test for the Cm Storm Trigger keyboard. As you can tell, it is far quieter than my CM Quickfire Pro. This is of course, mainly because this is a Cherry MX Brown switch instead of a Blue. I notice though, that the travel for this is significantly longer than my Quickfire, so getting used to the travel is something that I think I’ll have to practice in quite a bit. It’s the same as my Quickfire all over again; I have to look at the keyboard to type instead of simply typing by looking at the screen.

Got this on offer from the Ultimate Zone store in Jaya One. It was a pretty good deal too; RM299 for this model. The main reason I was gifted this by the BF was because I’ve been hankering over a fully backlit keyboard for quite some time now. He decided to surprise me with this since it was our anniversary. How do I like this keyboard so far?

Well, as you can tell it’s much quieter than my Quickfire. It’s also got quite a few unusual quirks. For instance, to use the Windows key as it was intended, I actually needed to download the CM trigger program and then remap the key. That was quite an odd thing to do. Another thing is that there’s no way to press the Function key once and have it activated till it’s turned off. This was what I used to do with my Quickfire, and not having this is kind of throwing me off. I actually have to press and hold the Alt Macro key to do this, but it’s something minor. Most likely muscle memory will take care of it in a bit.

And that’s it for my initial review of the CM Trigger. Have a thought or opinion? Leave a comment below and let me know!

[Geekery] Backspace not working in Chrome?

Go Back With Backspace Chrome Extension
Go Back With Backspace Chrome Extension

Just download this extension to get it fixed! Yes, the extension is legit. The page tells me it’s created by Google, so it should be safe.

That said, I’m among the large subset of users who do actually use the Backspace button to go back, and I admit I rely on the Are you sure you want to leave the page? Data may not have been saved” message to tell me I’m leaving the form I’m working on.

I know there are people who have lost data because of this backspace issue, but I find it really stupid that there has to be an extension for this in the first place. Also note that while this should fix most of your backspace not working issues caused by Chrome, there are some pages where it fails. Still, it’s a “solution” to a problem that should not have existed in the first place.

[Quickie] Pokémon Go has finally launched in Malaysia!

Krabby from Pokémon Go

Yes, it has, at last! There’s plenty written on the Net about how to play Pokémon Go so I won’t repeat them, but if you are planning to play in Malaysia, here’s some things you should know:

  • If you’re bored, or in need of a ride, jump on a Pokémobile ride via local ride-sharing service Grab to your next Pokéstop! Rides come with some fairly fun goodies
  • Hotlink, a local prepaid telco, has also launched some great promotions. Hotlink customers will get a 10% discount on all Pokémon Go in-app purchases via Hotlink Cash Online
  • Local Ingress players will have a slight advantage. Majority of local portals, especially Na Tuk Gongs, are Pokestops

Personally, I am expecting Digi and Celcom to also attempt to cash in on the Pokemon Go craze. Hotlink has obviously claimed team Valor for themselves (both are red) which means Digi should be Instinct and Celcom Mystic. It’s interesting how all three colours are the colours of the biggest telcos in Malaysia, aren’t they…..

Distracted by Path of Exile

Path of Exile

I’m alive! Or so it may not matter, if you haven’t been by the blog recently. Things have been, as they are apt to be at the end of the month, simply nuts.

That, and I kind of got swallowed by Path of Exile.

It’s a game very much in the vein of Diablo, if you’ve played it. Unlike Diablo though, the story feels more interesting to me, and the character you play does have an impact on the dialogue other characters have with you.

I actually started a Patreon for this, thinking to document my journey. Within three weeks that got shot to hell because I tend to be playing faster than I’m writing. What I do have are impressions, so I’ll probably concentrate on that more.

On one hand, I finally killed Malachai (yay!) but it was a tough fight. Urgh. Not quite looking forward to the fact that I’ll need to go through him a second time to get to Merciless. In terms of loot and storytelling, that’s where I’ll need to go next, says the boyfriend.

Which brings me to something I find really interesting. Path of Exile’s lore is depicted in conversations (as you might expect) graffiti, and even random notebooks and the like here and there. What I find interesting is how the same NPCs can say completely different things to your characters, simply based on what class you’re playing.

Yes, I know there are other games that are more decision based, but one of the things I like about PoE is the straightforward, linear storytelling. There’s no real room for deviation, only what build your character is. Also discovering uniques is fun. Quite a bit of story unfolds with them.

With that, back to game!

PS: I don’t play the Garena version which is what Malaysia’s officially on. I’m playing on the Grinding Gear Games official client. Faster updates.