Google hilariously screws up its chat strategy yet again

They’re also ‘pausing’ Allo development

Google hilariously screws up its chat strategy yet again

Dieter Bohn, Executive Editor at The Verge, today published a pretty thorough ‘exclusive’ on Google’s latest Chat experiment.

Exclusive: Chat is Google's next big fix for Android's messaging mess
A top-tier Android phone can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, and for that money, you'll get some amazing features…

According to Bohn, “SMS is terrible”. And Google is here to fix it with a new standard that is just as reliant on the same carriers that allowed SMS to become so outdated. It also is yet to find support from Apple, meaning this new open standard might not even be any better than SMS on an iPhone.

Google’s solution to the seemingly unsolvable messaging mystery ignores the simple fact that Google could have easily created a standalone Facebook Messenger-like service called Google Chat a decade ago, rather than creating Hangouts, Talk, Allo and Duo. In fact, with a suite of apps pre-installed on every Android phone in the universe, Google could have created a comprehensive, secure messaging service to rival Apple’s, thanks to Gmail’s similarly strong foothold in the email market. If a user didn’t have a Google account they could have just used their phone number, like WhatsApp, and chat through Gmail or Chrome, which Google can also quite easily do.

But I digress…

Maybe ‘Chat’, an open standard by Google based around RCS, is the solution. Maybe the carriers will let Google take the rein and bring about a standard that doesn’t get lost in time. Or maybe a 4000-word article to describe a chat app is equally damning of Google’s new plan. Sounds simple to me!

Google is so confident in this potential that Google executive Anil Sabharwal admitted that there is no way to predict when this new protocol will just feel seamless. From Bohn:

Unfortunately, we aren’t likely to get one big, splashy moment when Chat “just works.” I press Sabharwal multiple times on this issue: when are carriers going to switch users over? “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he demurs. “I don’t know exactly how long it’s going to be, but we really feel that we are on the cusp of it right now.” Later, he relents and says, “Look, I can speculate, which I think is what you’re asking me to do.”

The service will, according to Sabharwal:

“differ from country to country” and from region to region. Europe and Latin America are likely to enable it before US carriers. Still, he stresses, “This is not a three- to five-year play. Our goal is to get this level of quality messaging to our users on Android within the next couple of years.”

Nothing better than a protocol that differs between carriers. It’s almost like Google is unaware of the ways in which modern services can operate. You don’t need Verizon’s approval to put an app on Google Play or the App Store, though Google’s confusing, fragmented messaging situation has apparently left the company with no other option.

To use ‘Chat’ on your desktop you’ll need to scan a QR code in Chrome and then use a web interface, like you do with WhatsApp and Google’s current failed offering Allo. But that doesn’t mean your messages will suddenly integrate with Hangouts in Gmail. Instead it just means you’ll need to keep a tab open for Chat, Gmail and Allo if you’re a Google stan. And if you use Google Apps for Work, be sure to also keep open those tabs too, just in case someone messages you through Hangouts Chat or Hangouts or Gmail. Nice!

Samsung is also promising to allow for Chat integration, but there’s no real word on whether that means Samsung users will need to use a crummy Samsung app that just includes Google’s protocol features.

Even better, unlike iMessage or WhatsApp, this new service is totally unencrypted. Good luck toppling a crippling government regime with this new revolutionary solution!

I guess this is all just part of Google’s great plan! As Bohn concludes:

Customization is messy. Android is messy. So it makes sense that the ultimate fix for Android messaging wasn’t to eliminate messiness, but to embrace it.