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Google Meet’s messy message | Computerworld


Sometimes, Google’s just gotta Google.

That’s what I’m starting to think when it comes to the company’s ever-evolving mess of messaging apps, which has consistently been one of the biggest sources of confusion (and sometimes amusement) for anyone who relies on Android or other Google services — whether on a personal level or as part of an enterprise-level business.

You know the gist by now, right? Take a deep breath and let’s try to do this in a single sprawling, record-length sentence (and major bonus points if you manage to read it out loud without having to pause for a breath). Ready? Here we go:

Way back when, Google had a messaging service called Google Talk that came installed on every Android phone and was built right into Gmail, even though most people called it Google Chat (or GChat for short), and at a certain point, Google changed that into Hangouts and made a big deal about how that was its new universal “unified messaging platform” that’d be a foundation for the future — and, well, that app had everything a messaging service needed at the time, including encryption and video and a massive built-in user base, but then Google decided to stop focusing on it and instead launch a thousand other overlapping messaging services while eventually repurposing Hangouts into an enterprise thing (despite its name being the least business-appropriate-sounding brand imaginable, outside of perhaps “NakeyChatParty” or, I don’t know, “Facebook Messenger”) and then also tooting around with new messaging services called Allo and Duo for consumers while simultaneously working on another texting app called Messenger that was eventually renamed to Android Messages and then Google Messages and maybe just Messages now (no one’s entirely sure), and so then Messages and Duo ended up becoming the main focus for consumers, for text and video, respectively, while two new Hangouts-branded apps called Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat filled the same role on the enterprise front and the regular old Hangouts app continued to exist alongside them but then those enterprise service names were eventually changed to just Google Meet and Google Chat and the regular old Hangouts app still exists and THAT BRINGS US TO NOW.

Whew! Got all that? I’m exhausted. But somehow, that’s just the start.

Even with that unbelievable saga, y’see, we ultimately landed in a place that actually almost made sense (if you allowed yourself to forget the past for a second): Messages and Duo were the text and video messaging apps for consumers, while Meet and Chat were the group chat and videoconferencing apps for enterprises. Google made this distinction abundantly clear, with a member of the messaging team going as far as to create and share a handy chart that illustrated the breakdown:

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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