Monday, November 29, 2021
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Chat, Meet, Hangouts: How many messaging apps does Google have, anyway?


New year, new redesign of Google’s messaging apps. The software giant recently started notifying Google Chat app users about the integration of old Hangouts conversations and contacts into the new app. The news may mark the beginning of the end for Hangouts, but nothing indicates that Google is close to ending its confusing messaging app strategy.

  • Google Chat to integrate Hangouts contacts and conversations
  • Google Chat was originally launched as Hangouts Chat
  • The app was until then focused on corporate communication

Google Chat was launched in 2017 under the name Hangouts Chat – along with the then Hangouts Meet, later renamed to Google Meet – with the aim of being a communication tool in companies, positioned against services like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Even back then, Google hinted at plans to discontinue Hangouts, which itself is heir to the legacy of the old GTalk or Google Talk. Despite several initiatives by the company to popularize the app, which was even positioned for a few years as the default app for SMS on Android, the service was left behind by rivals like WhatsApp, Telegram and others.

Comuni-ception

As previously announced, Google has begun repositioning Google Chat as a personal service as well, incorporating contacts from the Hangouts list. This also includes the history of conversations and the option to search by profiles, as shown by journalist Ron Amadeo on Twitter:

The integration still does not include group chats and the video calling system is now done by Google Meet – with an invitation link sent to both Chat contacts and old profiles still on the other app – instead of the integrated Hangouts service.

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2021 02 25 Google Messages
Video calls are redirected from Google Chat to Meet / © NextPit

Confusing message

Should Google finally stick to its plans to shut down Hangouts, it would come as no surprise if the move drives away the service’s few remaining users, who have already gone through the migration from Google Talk to the current app.

Currently, the company offers a confusing array of different services for communication, which has been exacerbated by repeated names and different apps for the same function, separated between corporate and home audiences. The strategy to discontinue Hangouts seems to indicate that Google is aware of the problem, but the constant changes – and product cancellations – don’t inspire much confidence.

At the time of writing, Google offered (at least) seven different communication apps, some of them competing with each other. Let’s try to briefly summarize each of them:

Current status

App Function Audience Competitors
Hangouts Instant Messaging Home WhatsApp, Telegram
Google Chat Corporate Communication Corporate/domestic Slack, Teams
Google Meet Video Calling Business/Home Zoom, Teams, WebEx
Google Duo Video calling Home Skype, Messenger Rooms
Google Voice Phone calls
Messaging (some countries)
Domestic
Business (some countries)
Skype
Phone Hangouts Phone Calls Domestic Skype
Messages SMS / MMS / RCS Business/domestic iMessage

Before, the company also had services like Allo for instant messaging, Buzz for messaging and social networking, and many others. The amount of Google’s communication alternatives – not including services like Gmail, Inbox or communication suites – inspired a humorous proposal from the same Amadeo on Twitter, suggesting to name the various services as numbered editions of sports game series:

What about you? You have followed up to which season of Google’s communication apps? Did you remember any service not mentioned or that deserved more attention? Give your opinion in the NextPit community.

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