Friday in CE: Google's Reworked Chat Strategy is Promising Start for an Otherwise Rocky Past
The timeline of Google's attempts to make a cohesive chat client is at best confusing, at worst hostile to its userbase.
The problem with Google has always been the ambiguity of which app they want people to send messages on. It starts in 2005 with the introduction of Google Talk, which gathered support for SMS in 2008. Google+ launches in 2011 with Huddle and Hangouts Video, offering two new ways to begin messaging people. Google + Hangouts, a different version than Hangouts Video, launches and mergers the other video and messaging apps.
Then in 2016, Google launches another text and video app, in the form of Allo and Duo respectively. While Allo was ambitious, it has ultimately been paused in conjunction with the new stock Android chat move.
All this so that Google can rename and finetune the stock version of Android's SMS app to just, simply, Chat. For the record, Chat will not be a new app. It will be an update that is coming "soon" according to sources close to Google and will offer Rich Communication Services (RCS).
Android Chat will take on the likes of iMessage, Facebook Messanger, and WhatsApp, three very successful ways to communicate. In fact, many loyal iPhone users say that iMessage is the reason they stick with Apple in the first place.
And for good reason. iMessage has read receipts, amazing visuals, a robust amount of gimmicks, and is in encrypted. Google's long list of fallen apps can't hold a candle to it. However, Google can address some of these issues with their RCS update, rolling it out to a handful of carriers and operating systems.
It's a big signal that Google is tired of making (read failing) at making their own proprietary messaging platform. RCS gives the ability to send really high-resolution photos and videos, use data instead of SMS, and leverage all the resources of a modern-era chat client such as a stable web client.
With the halt to Allo, Google is allocating a ton of resources into making this work. A new Google Messaging executive Anil Sabharwal - who lead the Google Photos team - will lead the new Android Messaging app team.
It's a big investment by Google, but at least they feel focused. It has been a long time since they have nailed a chat experience, but they haven't proven that they won't just dump another convoluted app a few months later and not learn from their mistakes.