The chat ecosystem and Google

Recently Google released their new chat apps for mobile called Allo and Duo. The two apps have different purposes; Allo is for instant messaging, and Duo is for video. Allo has the unique feature of being integrated with Google’s Assistant AI so you can ask it questions right inside a chat conversation. It’s meant to leverage the power of Google to integrate with other services while you are making dinner plans with your friends.

I’ve been a user of Google instant messaging systems for a long time. Back in the days of GTalk, my friends and I were some of the earliest adopters. When GTalk was supplanted by Hangouts (integrated with G+), many of us made the migration as well. Now it seems that our next step is to adopt Google’s new mobile only applications if we want to stay on the cutting edge. The only problem is that I really don’t see an advantage in trying to get my friends and family to switch to yet another chat app from Google, and one that is only on their phones.

Today Google announced that their new “default” will be to make Hangouts an optional app on Android phones going forward. This doesn’t kill the app by any means, and Google has stated that they feel Hangouts has a bright future in corporate uses, but it certainly paints a picture of where Google thinks the app future is heading. So that’s got me questioning how I should communicate in the future.

As I mentioned, many of my friends followed me to Hangouts, but others did not. In fact, many people I know have moved over to Facebook Messenger, and I’m often having conversations on that platform more frequently than Hangouts. I also really like Apple’s iMessage platform, but if your friends aren’t on i-devices you can’t communicate with them.

I also need a chat system that allows me to use my computer or a mobile device. Google’s new pair of apps are mobile only, making them infinitely less useful to me. If I’m chatting with my wife at work to talk about dinner plans, it’s a lot easier to type out long messages, then to thumb type for minutes on end. Hangouts has both a web version and Chrome app, meaning that even if you’re not using Chrome you can still get access from a full size keyboard. Facebook Messenger also has a web version that is actually really nice and clean to use.

I’ll be curious to see how much longer Google keeps Hangouts going, or if we all need to migrate sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I might end up on other chat platforms on my own as my friends migrate to greener pastures.

 

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