Google Messaging Confusion: Timeline

Over the last 15 years, Google has deployed over 12 messaging services that span text, voice, and video calls. This week, the company’s efforts have led to the general availability of Google Chat, which combines Slack / Discord-style rooms with traditional messaging.

This is a kind of announcement that might have been expected to bring some consistency to the company’s confused messenger messaging, but as it is traditional for Google in this area, there is a lot of confusion to avoid. There is.

For one thing, Google Chat is a name that fans have lovingly used for many years to refer to Google Talk, Google’s original messaging service. Is this a coincidence that makes Google’s messaging Ouroboros go around completely, or does it mean inviting GChat fans to actually use the company’s latest attempts?

Second, Google Chat includes its own messaging room, formerly known as Rooms, but even if Google introduces it, it will soon “evolve” into what’s called Spaces. Another messaging app called Spaces In 2016.

This is a breakdown of Google’s leading messaging products over the years, showing currently active services in bold.

Email: Gmail

Messaging services: Google Talk, Google Plus Huddle, Google Hangouts, Google Allo, Google chatAnd, in addition, the myriad of chat features built into other Google products not mentioned here

SMS / RCS service: Android messaging app with Google Voice and RCS chat integration

Video conferencing services: Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Plus Hangouts, Google Duo, Google Meet

Collaboration software: Google Wave, Google Plus Circle, Google Docs Chat, Google chat

There are two main issues in that turmoil. It’s Google’s apparent love for launching new services and the inability to combine products under one umbrella.

Competitors like WhatsApp show what the opposite approach is. This means that you can use video and audio from all one app with the chat service associated with your phone number. Alternatively, there is Apple’s iPhone approach. It links your email address and phone number to the two services. IMessage for text and FaceTime for audio and video.

But Google continues to fall into the same cycle, which has been repeated over the years. Build new services, integrate them into more areas of the product lineup, then wipe the slate clean, start a new service that (eventually) replaces the old set, and start a new cycle.

The four eras of Google messaging so far are:

April 1, 2004: Gmail will be released in beta. Undoubtedly, Google’s first communication product, Gmail, promised a new kind of email service that allows users to search old threads with the same capabilities as Google’s main site without having to delete emails. Originally thought to be an April Fool’s joke..

August 2005: Google Talk begins, and Google’s entry into messaging services begins. In addition to instant messaging, Talk also provided voice calls via a desktop client. Talk will be integrated into Gmail in 2006 as a kind of “AOL Instant Messenger” for Gmail’s “AOL” email service. The user in Gmail’s Chat window will be called GChat.

November 2007: Google Talk is supported by group chat, allowing users to send messages to multiple contacts in real time.

October 2008: Google announces Android For smartphones. It supports both Google Talk and regular SMS text messages.

November 2008: Google Talk added to Gmail With voice and video chat.

March 2009: Google Voice released.. Google Voice, a rebranding of an existing company called Grand Central, acquired by Google in 2007, allows users to sign up for a single phone number that allows them to send and receive text messages and calls on both their PC and phone. Google Voice and Google Talk remain separate services.

May 2009: Google Wave announced at Google I / O.. Proposed as a grand vision for the future of Internet communications, Wave revisited email and chat as a series of grouped threads with different users until Google stopped development a year later. Overall a flop, Wave is considered the predecessor of team messaging apps like Slack.

February 2010: Google launches Google Buzz.. It’s primarily a Twitter-like microblogging service within Gmail, but it also provides private messages that you can send to small groups. It was abolished in 2011 to give way to Google+.

April 2010: Google adds chat to Google Docs.. The new chat feature is designed to allow document editors to communicate with each other while editing a document, but is separate from other Google chat services.

August 2010: Google Voice is integrated with GmailAs an extension of Google Talk’s voice call capabilities, it allows Gmail users to call regular phone numbers directly from Gmail.

April 2011: Google Add live video chat Bring Google Talk voice and internet calls to Android on mobile.

Google+ / Hangouts Era (2011-2016)

June 2011: Google+ will start. On the surface, it’s Google’s approach to Facebook’s social media dominance, and it also introduces two unique messaging services. Hangouts for group text messaging and group video for phones.

This is the first part of Google’s messaging cycle. Although it will take two years for Google to complete its branding and strategy here, it’s the introduction of a new service.

July 2012: Google Launch Hangouts in GmailWe call it a more “modern” version of the existing video calling feature that Gmail provided through Google Talk. As Google began incorporating Hangouts into other services, we’re already beginning to see the second part of the cycle.

May 2013: Google+ Hangouts resumed As Google’s new comprehensive messaging platform. It integrates other Google messaging apps and video chat apps into one integrated service, replacing Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the old Google+ Hangouts video chat service.

In particular, Hangouts does not include SMS integration at startup.

September 2014: Google Voice is integrated into Hangouts and continues Google’s commitment to a cohesive messaging system, providing SMS support.

April 2015: Google Fi released as Project Fi.. Google’s phone plan is also integrated with Hangouts, but it can be a headache for Google Voice. Two services exist side by side..

June 2016: Google Talk for Android and Gmail (although most people call it, but not yet officially called GChat or Google Chat) has been discontinued, marking the end of Google’s original messaging service. I will.

Google Allo Era (2016–2019)

Allo's Google Assistant

May 2016: Google will start the cycle again at Google I / O 2016, announcing both the new text messaging app Allo and the new video chat application Duo. Both are separate from Hangouts and make the water turbid again.

March 2017: Google has announced that Hangouts will be rebranded as Hangouts Chat with a new focus on enterprise use. Google has also released Hangouts Meet, a video conferencing app for businesses. This will later be the answer to Google’s Zoom. Allo and Duo are expected to replace Hangouts as new consumer options for messaging and video chat.

June 2017: GChat is finally really obsolete..Google too Remove SMS support Improves Slack’s position as a rival from Hangouts.

April 2018: Google “suspends investment” in AlloInstead, it focuses on RCS, a new standard that replaces SMS. Confusingly, Google uses the phrase “chat service” to enable RCS on Android, but it has nothing to do with Google Talk (commonly referred to as GChat) or Hangouts Chat / Google Chat. There is none.

December 2018: Google admits It’s actually shutting down Allo..

May 2019: Google Actually shut down Allo..

Hyundai: Back to Hangouts — Some sort (from 2020 to the present)

Google Spaces


Google’s mobile messaging is focused on RCS, and the company is back in Hangouts as an old and new web-based service for communication. But with a twist, the COVID-19 pandemic puts enterprise communication tools such as Slack and Zoom at the heart of everyday life for people who use them not only for businesses, but also for socializing and schooling.

March 2020: Hangouts Meet will be released to your personal Google Account as a new group video conferencing option.

April 2020: Hangouts Chat (which has steadily grown into a Slack / Discord style app in the previous era) Renamed to Google Chat — Marks some sort of Google Chat name return, but slow rollouts can mean that Hangouts are still lurking in your Gmail browser window.

April 2020: Hangouts meet Rebranded to Google Meet.

June 1, 2021: Google has released Google Chat to all its customers, announcing that “rooms” will become “spaces.” The space works like a Slack or Discord room and provides a central location for large group discussions compared to regular group threads. This also exists in chat.

It’s been a long way to get here, but with the release of Workspace and Google Chat for non-corporate users, it’s almost possible to see Google’s strategy. Gmail exists for email. Chat is a GChat / Hangouts style messaging system for real-time conversations and group chats. Spaces is a Slack / Discord style area for more permanent and larger rooms based on specific topics and conversations. There is a Meet for video chat.

However, mobile messaging is a nuisance. Google has spent years working with carrier technologies such as SMS and RCS to make its own services work, but it never ends. Pursuing Apple and WhatsApp using cellular carrier technology isn’t a terrible idea, but it’s not clear if Google can actually catch up.

Even if RCS is a strong alternative to SMS, confusingly, RCS doesn’t connect to web-based Google chat at all. Google calls RCS services “chat” In the same way. And in terms of video, it’s not clear why Google Duo still exists after the widespread release of Hangouts Meet. This is because the two have achieved much the same thing.

If anything is clear in 2021, the future of Google’s messaging is likely to remain confused for quite some time. Google Messaging Confusion: Timeline

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