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Google is finally fixing its incomprehensible messaging apps strategy

Published Dec 6th, 2018 6:01PM EST

As we and others reported last night, Google has confirmed it’s shutting down its messaging app Allo that never really caught fire in something of a streamlining of its fractured messaging app strategy.

It’s a strategy, if you could call it that, that’s seen the search giant release more than half a dozen messaging apps that all have slight variations and different functionalities, meaning Google has always lacked a kind of iMessage or even Facebook Messenger-style all-in-one app for this kind of thing, which has certainly left the company at somewhat of an unnecessary and critical disadvantage.

Stan Chudnovsky, the Facebook vice president in charge of Messenger, told us just a few days ago that we’re in the midst of a subtle but important shift in this area, away from primarily Newsfeed-style and one-to-many interactions and back to smaller, more intimate message sharing — to the point that now, in his words, one-to-one-style communication now “trumps” every other form.

Having said all that, Google’s messaging efforts have arguably been all over the place up to now, though the company seems to be moving in the right direction to finally address that. It’s shaving its seven different messaging apps down to five, for example, with the wind down of classic Hangouts and Google Allo. That still leaves Messages, Hangouts Chat, Hangouts Meet, Duo and Google Voice.

For its part, Google knows it needs to simplify things. In a company blog post, Google vice president of consumer communications products Matt Klainer writes about what’s next. “We want every single Android device to have a great default messaging experience. We’ve been working closely with the mobile industry to upgrade SMS so that people around the world can more easily enjoy group chats, share high-res photos, and get read receipts on any Android device. Thanks to partnerships with over 40 carriers and device makers, over 175 million of you are now using Messages, our messaging app for Android phones, every month.

“We built Duo, our simple, high-quality video calling app, so you never miss a moment with the people who matter most. It’s one of Google’s highest rated mobile apps and is seeing strong growth and engagement across both Android and iOS.” He goes on to note that Google launched Duo support for iPad, Android tablets, Chromebooks, and smart displays, in addition to the ability to leave a video message.

Regarding Hangouts Meet, the company recently launched the ability to organize meetings with up to 100 participants, making it easier for businesses to use. In the coming months, Hangouts Chat customers will also be able to bring in people from outside their organization like clients, vendors and various partners.

All of which is to say — there’s a little bit more of an overarching vision now that ties Google’s messaging properties together. At least, that’s what the company is saying. “We’re excited by the progress we’ve made with our communications experience over the past few years, and ready to take what we’ve learned from Allo and put it to work to make Messages even better,” Klainer’s post concludes. “And by refocusing on Messages and Duo for consumers and Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet for team collaboration, we’re focused on delivering a simpler and more unified communications experience for all of you.”

Andy Meek
Andy Meek Trending News Reporter

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.