A few Google I/O’s ago, rumours swirled about Google launching a standalone messaging system for Android which would rival Apple’s iMessage. This was soon to be the application we now know as Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts has been around for a few years, with recently incorporating SMS’s and such on mobile and being split up from Google+. Hangouts is also available via Gmail on your desktop or the hangouts app on tablets, Chromebooks and even iOS devices.
Today, we have numerous messaging applications from Google, which serves as confusing to users of Android and other operating systems who want a simplified system.
A confusing message
Roll onto 2016, At the recent Google I/O, two communication apps were announced, Allo and Duo. These two add to the list of messaging apps consisting of Hangouts, Spaces, YouTube Messaging and a generic SMS Messaging app for Android.
That is six applications for communication alone, along with applications from Facebook, who have over a billion active users on each of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, users on mobile have plenty of options for communicating with their friends. For Google to compete with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, and iMessage, they need to have a standalone application/service that caters for all, on any device. This is what Google Hangouts should have been. With adding more applications to the mix, it will be harder for users to communicate with their friends and family who are on different messaging platforms.
Say Hallo, to Allo and Duo
Allo and Duo are the latest communication effort from Google, Both applications are based on your Mobile telephone number, therefore you can use the application to message anyone in your phonebook, no need to link it to a Google account, It can also have end-to-end encryption.
For now, Allo, looks promising. With the new chatbots and fancy automated “smart-reply” messages, it looks a lot better than the Google Hangouts we see today. Allo learns over time, which eventually makes conversations easier and more expressive, according to the Keynote speaker at I/O.
The main feature that was impressive is that they have built Google Search into the messaging application. Need to find a nearby restaurant? You can simply search for it inside the message to show your recipients.
Duo is primarily a video calling application, which looks pretty great. Fast calling times and improved latency shows that it can compete with Facetime and Skype. We have known for a while that Google have been playing around with WebRTC tech, and it wasn’t much of a surprise that they have used it here for Duo.
I should say I feel like these features should have been added into Google Hangouts, instead of creating a whole new application, as hangouts has some footprint on Android, Web, and iOS. I don’t see the incentives of creating a separate application, marketing it and having one or two teams working on the same goals.
Why do Google do this to us?
It seems like Google are on a constant loop of throwing new applications up every year to see if they will eventually stick and become popular, something that Hangouts has done quite well.
Personally, I thought Google would have updated the existing applications, Hangouts and Messenger with the Bot features and WebRTC video calling from Allo & Duo.
For Google, These applications need to be used by millions of users for them to be as successful as they want them to be. There are reasons why Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage all work and are used worldwide: they are easy to use and are accessible to the masses. Some users don’t even understand how iMessage works, as long as they can send messages to their loved ones and friends.
Allo has already been criticised for security reasons, with the likes of Edward Snowden warning people to not use the app as Encryption isn’t turned on from the start. I can see Google soon introducing End-To-End Encryption as default on Allo.
Allo & Duo are a step forward
Its good to see the effort and time being put into these new messaging applications. Chat bots are going to be everywhere, from Facebook to Google. The WebRTC technologies bring video calling to a new level, with great latency improvements and generally better quality video.
Let’s hope these applications go along the way of Google Hangouts and even further, as Hangouts has shown it can be successful on Android, iOS, and even on the web.
Its time to have your say on the recent google I/O announcements, here in the comments! Or you can even discuss it via the normal Social Media pages you will see us on.Source: Google Official Blog