Sometimes, Google’s simply gotta Google.
That’s what I’m beginning to suppose in relation to the corporate’s ever-evolving mess of messaging apps, which has persistently been one of many greatest sources of confusion (and typically amusement) for anybody who depends on Android or different Google providers — whether or not on a private degree or as a part of an enterprise-level enterprise.
You know the gist by now, proper? Take a deep breath and let’s attempt to do that in a single sprawling, record-length sentence (and main bonus factors for those who handle to learn it out loud with out having to pause for a breath). Ready? Here we go:
Way again when, Google had a messaging service known as Google Talk that got here put in on each Android cellphone and was constructed proper into Gmail, despite the fact that most individuals known as it Google Chat (or GChat for brief), and at a sure level, Google modified that into Hangouts and made an enormous deal about how that was its new common “unified messaging platform” that’d be a basis for the longer term — and, nicely, that app had every little thing a messaging service wanted on the time, together with encryption and video and a large built-in consumer base, however then Google determined to cease specializing in it and as a substitute launch a thousand different overlapping messaging providers whereas finally repurposing Hangouts into an enterprise factor (regardless of its title being the least business-appropriate-sounding model possible, outdoors of maybe “NakeyChatParty” or, I do not know, “Facebook Messenger”) after which additionally tooting round with new messaging providers known as Allo and Duo for customers whereas concurrently engaged on one other texting app known as Messenger that was finally renamed to Android Messages after which Google Messages and possibly simply Messages now (nobody’s completely certain), and so then Messages and Duo ended up changing into the primary focus for customers, for textual content and video, respectively, whereas two new Hangouts-branded apps known as Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat stuffed the identical function on the enterprise entrance and the common outdated Hangouts app continued to exist alongside them however then these enterprise service names had been finally modified to only Google Meet and Google Chat and the common outdated Hangouts app nonetheless exists and THAT BRINGS US TO NOW.
Whew! Got all that? I’m exhausted. But someway, that is simply the beginning.
Even with that unbelievable saga, y’see, we in the end landed in a spot that really virtually made sense (for those who allowed your self to neglect the previous for a second): Messages and Duo had been the textual content and video messaging apps for customers, whereas Meet and Chat had been the group chat and videoconferencing apps for enterprises. Google made this distinction abundantly clear, with a member of the messaging group going so far as to create and share a helpful chart that illustrated the breakdown:
So that brings us to 2020 and in the present day. Following clues earlier this year that such a transfer is perhaps coming, Google is now making its Meet enterprise messaging service out there to everybody — together with customers — and actively encouraging non-business customers to embrace it.
You can use Meet to schedule, be part of or begin safe video conferences with anybody — for a digital yoga class, weekly guide membership, neighborhood assembly, or completely satisfied hour with associates. Until now, Meet has solely been out there as a part of G Suite, our collaboration and productiveness resolution for companies, organizations, and colleges. Going ahead, Meet will likely be out there to anybody totally free on the internet at meet.google.com and through cell apps for iOS or Android.
Right. So what about Duo — the patron video chat service ostensibly designed for these exact same functions? Well, it is nonetheless there, too. Just final week, in truth, Google announced some enhancements that’d deliver higher high quality to its encrypted video calls together with a bunch of different enhanced options, together with the power to have larger numbers of individuals concerned.
And as for the outdated (“classic”) model of Hangouts, which is someway nonetheless hanging on amidst all of this and nonetheless built-in in the main Gmail interface for shopper customers (the place it is referred to easily as “Chat” within the website’s settings, by the by, in case you wanted an additional pinch of confusion) — nicely, Google hasn’t but dedicated to any particular timeframe for when it’s going to pull the plug and put that factor out of its distress already.
But here is the actual kicker: The firm says it intends to “support classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet” — in different phrases, till all of the shopper customers of that outdated service are transitioned into these allegedly enterprise-focused present providers.
In addressing a few of the criticism of this entire messaging mess, a Google messaging supervisor as soon as pointed out the distinction between “what a product is for vs. who has entry to a product” — with the underlying implication, I assume, that Messages and Duo had been positioned for shopper use whereas Chat and Meet had been positioned for enterprise use, even when some customers from one space sometimes had entry to the opposite.
That’s honest sufficient. But how does that rationalization in any approach line up with Google now actively encouraging shopper customers to depend on Meet (whereas concurrently encouraging them to depend on Duo for a similar function) after which making ready to “migrate” the remaining shopper customers of the outdated Hangouts service into the enterprise-intended Chat and Meet — as a substitute of into their consumer-intended equivalents?
Man, my head hurts.
If there’s one actual takeaway from all of this, it is that nobody, least of all Google, appears to have a transparent and constant understanding of what the hell these messaging providers are supposed to be proper now. And when the corporate behind the merchandise cannot even current that form of easy and easy-to-understand breakdown, how are we as customers speculated to have any probability of deciphering it?
The end result from that’s widespread confusion, each on the patron finish and on the enterprise aspect. Imagine attempting to clarify all of this to a mean Android phone-owner who’s attempting to determine which app is suitable for them and value getting invested in — or to an enterprise decision-maker who’s weighing out Google’s communication choices alongside these of a competing service supplier. It’s laborious to think about any end result aside from one thing alongside the strains of: “What?! All right — never mind. Screw it. Let’s just use Slack” (or WhatsApp, or no matter the suitable different is perhaps).
And that is a disgrace, as a result of Google genuinely has some good providers. And it has the potential to have some nice providers — providers that might be uniquely positioned to resolve the cross-platform communication struggles so many people cope with and mutter about each day.
All it’d take is getting out of its personal rattling approach and managing to maintain a constant focus for greater than a matter of minutes. I’m actually beginning to marvel, although, if in relation to Google and messaging service technique, that is merely an excessive amount of to ask.
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