RIP Google Hangouts, Google’s last, best chance to compete with

RIP Google Hangouts, Google’s last, best chance to compete with iMessage

Today, November 1, 2022, Google Hangouts is scheduled for death. The telephone app has been individually booting individuals off the service since July, however the final vestiges of Hangouts, the web app, will likely be shut down immediately. Hangouts was—for a short interval—Google’s greatest, most bold, hottest messaging effort, however 5 billion downloads later, Google is transferring on. Hangout’s subsequent of kin, Google Chat, ought to have all your messages and contacts mechanically imported by now, however the brand new service is a faint shadow of the unique plan for Hangouts.

The closing of Hangouts is the most recent chapter within the mess that’s Google’s messaging historical past. Google Talk launched 17 years in the past, and Google nonetheless does not have a aggressive message platform. Part of the explanation we’re on Google’s 10 millionth messaging app is that there’s a strong, secure house for messaging inside Google. The 2022 messaging lineup is a superb instance. You’ve received the Google Workspace workforce making Google Chat—that is Google’s enterprise workforce making a Slack competitor—after which there’s Google Messages—a carrier-centric sort-of-competitor to Apple’s iMessage—which seemingly grew out of the Android workforce. Is the workforce that makes Android roughly essential than the workforce that makes Gmail and the remainder of the Google apps? Both have their comprehensible causes for chasing messaging, however splitting the Google person base throughout two incompatible merchandise makes it powerful for both undertaking to achieve any traction. Besides these two large initiatives, there’s additionally nonetheless Google Voice, and a bunch of siloed messaging providers in apps like Google Photos and Google Pay.

Once upon a time, Google tried to repair this. Messaging was alleged to have an actual house at Google, and that house was alleged to be (cue dramatic thunderclap) Google+. Back in 2011, Google’s then-CEO Larry Page determined social was the long run and spun up the Google+ undertaking throughout the corporate. The head of G+ received the title “Senior Vice President” making him one of many eight-ish those that reported on to Page, enshrining Google+ as one of many most important pillars of Google. This division was alleged to take full possession of messaging, and it launched its messaging undertaking—Google+ Hangouts—two years later.

Hangouts, which was codenamed “Project Babel,” was charged with the duty of—get this—unifying Google messaging portfolio. Google had 4 messaging apps on the time, Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, Android’s SMS app, and Google Voice. Hangouts launched in 2013, and by the tip of the yr integrated SMS messages. By 2014, the app was totally operational, and featured Hangouts Messages, SMS, and Google Voice multi function app, all obtainable out of your telephone or anyplace on the Internet. With the discharge of Android 4.4 in 2013, there was no standalone Android SMS app. Hangouts was the one default SMS choice.

Google had constructed its iMessage clone, and it was an unbelievable service. All your communication was obtainable from a single messaging app in a single, easy-to-use interface. Google additionally had tangible benefits over iMessage, due to broad cross-platform compatibility. Hangouts was on Android, iOS, the net, and inside Gmail. That meant the service natively labored on telephones, watches, automobiles, tablets, net browsers, and even Google Glass at one level. Google would in all probability have an honest footing in messaging immediately if it simply saved updating and investing in Hangouts.

Hangout’s house was already falling aside in 2014, although. Amid complaints that Google+ was a “ghost city,” the knives got here out for the service. Google+ SVP and driving power behind the undertaking, Vic Gundotra, left Google, and that very same day reports came out that Google+ assets can be drastically reduce, and the compelled, Google-wide integration of G+ would finish. Hangouts was caught in a dying division, and whereas some initiatives like Google+ Photos managed to spin out right into a secure touchdown spot, Hangouts didn’t, and by 2015 you’ll repeatedly see complaints from clients that the undertaking was underfunded.

The different “drawback” with Hangouts is that it was a strike towards cell carriers. Combining SMS and an over-the-top messaging service into one app was one thing the carriers did not like. They needed one thing targeted on SMS and solely SMS, so customers would not dare be tempted to not use a service product. Google caved and launched the standalone Google Messages within the next Android release. With Google’s lack of group and fortitude, Hangouts’ reign as Google’s high, all-in-one messaging service solely lasted a couple of yr. Hangouts has saved on trucking because the deserted, zombie product that was nonetheless higher than the plethora of recent messaging providers Google would launch afterward, and immediately, it is lastly being put down.

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