Google’s Messaging Mess: A Timeline


Over the previous 15 years, Google has launched greater than a dozen messaging companies and products spanning textual affirm, declare, and video calling. This week, the company’s efforts culminated in the no longer contemporary availability of Google Chat, a combination of Slack / Discord-fashion rooms with extra extinct messaging.

It’s the fashion of announcement that can need been anticipated to bring some consistency to the company’s muddled messenger messaging, but — as is extinct for Google in this enlighten — there’s masses of misunderstanding to trail around.

For one thing, Google Chat is the title followers like affectionately used to refer to Google’s common messaging provider, Google Talk, for a pair of years. Is this a coincidence that brings Google’s messaging ouroboros paunchy circle, or is it meant to entice GChat followers into truly the exercise of the company’s most stylish strive?

For one other, Google Chat contains its hold messaging rooms that were previously called Rooms but will soon “evolve” into something called Areas, despite the fact that Google launched a utterly different messaging app called Areas in 2016.

Right here’s a breakdown of Google’s vital messaging choices over time, with for the time being appealing companies and products in dauntless:

Electronic mail: Gmail

Messaging companies and products: Google Talk, Google Plus Huddle, Google Hangouts, Google Allo, Google Chat, plus innumerable chat parts built into other Google merchandise we won’t point out right here

SMS/RCS companies and products: Google Declare, Android Messages app with RCS chat integration

Video conferencing companies and products: Google Talk, Google Declare, Google Plus Hangouts, Google Duo, Google Meet

Collaboration machine: Google Wave, Google Plus circles, Google Clinical doctors chat, Google Chat

Interior that mess of product names are two core factors: Google’s obvious luxuriate in of launching contemporary companies and products and its incapability to combine merchandise under one umbrella.

Competitors luxuriate in WhatsApp display veil what the opposite procedure would be: a chat provider tied to a user’s phone number that allows for video and declare, all from one app. Or there’s Apple’s iPhone procedure, which ties e mail addresses and reveal to numbers to 2 companies and products: iMessage for textual affirm and FaceTime for audio and video.

Google retains falling into the identical cycle, even supposing, one which has repeated itself all around the years. It’ll originate out contemporary companies and products, integrating them into extra areas of its product lineup, then strive and wipe the slate neat, open contemporary companies and products that (at remaining) change the used internet site, and start up the cycle anew.

Listed right here are the four eras of Google messaging so a ways:

April 1st, 2004: Gmail launches in beta. Arguably Google’s first verbal replace product, Gmail promised a up to date roughly e mail provider where users wouldn’t like to delete emails and could well aloof search used threads with the identical vitality as Google’s vital internet site. On the starting up assumed to be an April Fools’ silly fable.

August 2005: Google Talk launches, kicking off Google’s foray into messaging companies and products. Moreover rapid messaging, Talk additionally equipped declare calls via its desktop consumer. Talk could well perhaps be integrated into Gmail in 2006 as the fashion of “AOL Quick Messenger” to Gmail’s “AOL” e mail provider. Found in the “Chat” window in Gmail, users wind up calling it GChat.

November 2007: Google Talk receives enhance for neighborhood chats, allowing users to message quite loads of contacts in proper time.

October 2008: Google launches Android for smartphones, with enhance for both Google Talk and unheard of SMS texting.

November 2008: Google Talk is added to Gmail with declare and video chat.

March 2009: Google Declare launches. A rebrand of an existing company called GrandCentral that Google sold in 2007, Google Declare lets users evaluate in for a single phone number that can ship and receive textual affirm messages and calls on both PCs and telephones. Google Declare and Google Talk remain separate companies and products.

Would perchance perhaps 2009: Google Wave is announced at Google I/O. Pitched as a gargantuan vision for the long journey of data superhighway verbal replace, Wave reimagined e mail and chat as a series of grouped threads with utterly different users till Google stopped trend a 365 days later. Whereas total a flop, Wave is now considered as a precursor to group messaging apps luxuriate in Slack.

February 2010: Google launches Google Buzz. It’s basically a microblogging provider luxuriate in Twitter that lives inside of Gmail, but it with out a doubt additionally gives inner most messages it’s also possible to ship to little groups. It used to be discontinued in 2011 to assemble procedure for Google+.

April 2010: Google provides chat to Google Clinical doctors. The contemporary chat feature is designed to let document editors communicate with every other while editing a document, but it with out a doubt’s lower loose Google’s other chat companies and products.

August 2010: Google Declare gets integrated into Gmail, allowing Gmail users to name unheard of phone numbers with out prolong from Gmail as a spread of Google Talk’s declare name feature.

April 2011: Google provides are living video chat to Android, bringing Google Talk’s declare and data superhighway calls to mobile.

The Google+ / Hangouts generation (2011–2016)

June 2011: Google+ launches. Ostensibly Google’s approach to Facebook’s social media dominance, it additionally intros two messaging companies and products of its hold: Huddle neighborhood textual affirm messaging for telephones and Hangouts for neighborhood video.

It’s basically the major half of Google’s messaging cycle: the introduction of contemporary companies and products, despite the fact that it’ll recall two years for Google to finalize the branding and approach right here.

July 2012: Google launches Hangouts in Gmail, calling it a extra “trendy” version of the present video calling feature that Gmail had equipped via Google Talk. Already, we start up to evaluate the second half of the cycle, as Google begins to originate out Hangouts into its other companies and products.

Would perchance perhaps 2013: Google+ Hangouts is relaunched as Google’s contemporary overarching messaging platform. It attempts to merge other Google messaging and video chat apps correct into a single unified provider, changing Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the used Google+ Hangouts video chat provider.

Notably, Hangouts doesn’t encompass SMS integration at open.

September 2014: Google Declare is integrated into Hangouts, continuing Google’s efforts for a cohesive messaging gadget and bringing some SMS enhance.

April 2015: Google Fi launches as Project Fi. Google’s phone plan additionally integrates with Hangouts but leads to headaches with Google Declare, provided that the two companies and products exist facet by facet.

June 2016: Google Talk for Android and Gmail (aloof no longer formally named GChat or Google Chat, despite what most folks name it) is discontinued, marking the discontinuance of Google’s common messaging provider.

The Google Allo generation (2016–2019)

Would perchance perhaps 2016: Google begins its cycle again at Google I/O 2016, asserting both Allo, a up to date texting app, and Duo, a up to date video chat utility. Every are lower loose Hangouts, muddying the waters once again.

March 2017: Google announces Hangouts is being rebranded as Hangouts Chat, with a up to date focus on endeavor exercise. Google additionally launches Hangouts Meet, an endeavor-friendly videoconferencing app that later becomes Google’s reply to Zoom. Allo and Duo are anticipated to recall the enlighten of Hangouts as the contemporary user alternatives for messaging and video chat.

June 2017: GChat is finally, truly discontinued. Google additionally removes SMS enhance from Hangouts to better enlighten it as a Slack competitor.

April 2018: Google “pauses investment” in Allo, focusing as a replace on RCS, a up to date no longer contemporary to replace SMS. Confusingly, Google uses the phrase “chat companies and products” to refer to enabling RCS on Android, despite being unrelated to Google Talk (repeatedly in most cases called GChat) and Hangouts Chat / Google Chat.

December 2018: Google admits it’s truly shutting down Allo.

Would perchance perhaps 2019: Google truly shuts down Allo.

The trendy generation: relieve to Hangouts — fashion of (2020 so a ways)


With Google’s mobile messaging centered on RCS, the company comes relieve to Hangouts as its used-contemporary internet-basically basically based provider for verbal replace. Nonetheless in a twist, the COVID-19 pandemic puts endeavor verbal replace instruments luxuriate in Slack and Zoom entrance and heart — no longer accurate for companies, but for the day after day lifetime of folks to exercise for socializing, school, and extra.

March 2020: Hangouts Meet is launched to inner most Google accounts as a up to date neighborhood videoconferencing choice.

April 2020: Hangouts Chat (which has gradually grown correct into a Slack / Discord-fashion app throughout the outdated generation) is renamed to Google Chat — marking the return of forms of the Google Chat title, even supposing the unhurried rollout could well mean you proceed to like Hangouts lurking on your Gmail browser window.

April 2020: Hangouts Meet is rebranded to Google Meet.

June 2021: Google releases Google Chat to all customers and announces that “Rooms” will modified into “Areas.” Areas work equivalent to a Slack or Discord room, offering a central enlighten for greater neighborhood discussions when when put next with unheard of neighborhood threads — which aloof exist in Chat, too.

It’s been a protracted avenue to find right here, but with the open of Workspace and Google Chat to non-endeavor users, it’s nearly imaginable to evaluate Google’s approach. Gmail exists for emails; Chat is the GChat / Hangouts-fashion messaging gadget for proper-time conversations and neighborhood chats; Areas is the Slack / Discord-fashion enlighten for extra chronic, greater rooms constant with a explicit matter or conversation; and there’s Meet for video chats.

Mobile messaging is messier, even supposing, with Google having spent years attempting to find its hold companies and products to work facet by facet with carrier applied sciences luxuriate in SMS and RCS — and there’s no discontinuance in understanding. Working with mobile carrier expertise to pursue Apple and WhatsApp isn’t a gross thought, but it with out a doubt’s no longer determined whether Google can truly manage to preserve up.

Although RCS could well be a noteworthy contender to replace SMS, it doesn’t connect to the obtain-basically basically based Google Chat the least bit — despite the fact that, confusingly, Google refers to RCS companies and products as “chat” as smartly. And on the video entrance, it’s no longer determined why Google Duo aloof exists following the broader unlock of Hangouts Meet for the reason that two largely create the identical things.

If something else is obvious in 2021, it’s that Google’s messaging future will likely remain muddled for quite some time.