Google Allo's incognito mode is like a more secure Snapchat

Google Allo

Google incoming Allo app could be more interesting and feature-packed than we originally thought, as its new Incognito Mode seems to be borrowing a few things from Snapchat.

We'd already heard that Allo had an Incognito Mode, complete with end-to-end encryption and expiring messages, but now we've learned a few more things about it, such as how those disappearing messages will work.

According to Android Police, which obtained information based on a test preview version of Allo, there'll be a timer at the top right corner of each Incognito chat, set to 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, or off, and each message sent in the chat will disappear after that amount of time.

Google Allo

The duration of the timer can be changed at any point by any of the chat participants, but changes won't apply to old messages, so if a message has already been sent with a 1 week expiry time then changing the timer to 1 minute won't make it disappear any faster.

Sounds familiar

The feature sounds a bit like Snapchat, especially as images can be sent as well as text or voice messages, though the timer on Allo can be set to a lot longer than on Snapchat.

But the implementation in Allo is also a bit different and potentially slightly clunky, as there's apparently no indicator of how long any specific message will take to expire, and no guarantee that it will be seen before it disappears.

Of course this is just a preview version of Allo, so there's a chance the app will be changed and improved before launch, but even with those issues Incognito Mode sounds like it could be useful, and it certainly seems to take security more seriously than Snapchat.

For one thing you can't take screenshots of Incognito chats and there are various other security-conscious features, with the conversation list and notifications keeping the content of messages private.

Whether Allo will rival Snapchat for popularity remains to be seen, but with it set to launch later this summer we should find out soon.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.