Google will once again change their messaging strategy!

Continuing the discussion from 2x62: Hey Eckhardt:

Good evening

From now on, who ever loses the prediction battle should automatically be allowed to predict that Google will once again change their messaging strategy!

Apparently Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat are now Google Meet and Google Chat for G Suite customers but Hangouts remains for consumers - albeit on life support.

This whole COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation situation has really put a spotlight on the messed up state of messaging on Android (vs iOS where everyone has iMesssage and Facetime so there’s no need for anything else).

I’ve tried a few chat, voice, and video apps. Notably SMS/phone (no video), Hangouts, Duo (no chat), Signal, and WhatsApp.

I’m reluctant to put much effort into Hangouts because we all expect it to be retired soon. The video quality was the worst of them all. But it’s the only one that ticks all the boxes:

  • chats, voice, and video in one app
  • does not require a mobile number to subscribe (so my kids and parents can use it easily)
  • feature parity across mobiles, tablets, and computers (including Chromebooks)
  • has enough of my contacts already using it

Duo’s video quality is very good, even for my parents, but getting through signup without a phone number is a hassle (but possible); and there’s no chat component so it’s back to Hangouts for that (Pulse SMS integrates nicely with Duo but that only works for contacts with a mobile).

I would love to use Signal (being open source and private and is an SMS client on the phone) but there’s absolutely no Chrome app (no Linux or Android on my Chromebook); it requires a phone number; and I don’t feel enough of my contacts use it that the rest will easily hop on.

WhatsApp ticks two out of four boxes (all-in-one and most contacts are onboard) plus there are rumours that Facebook is merging the backends of FB Messenger, Insta Messenger, and WhatsApp so I could stay in touch with friends who insist on using FB without me actually opening FB (and never being able to leave).

If I had a time machine the one wrong that I would right is when Google abandoned Hangouts after they had just finished adding SMS to it and it looked like they were finally on track to offer Android users a viable iMessage/Facetime alternative on all platforms.

Has anyone found an alternative that ticks all the boxes?

Happy Easter everyone - stay healthy!!!

I think Google must see Android as the communication app and Duo and Messenger as functions of that app. Which kind of makes sense as there’s no real reason to combine them under one app when they are tied together in the background.

A couple you didn’t mention, Skype & Discord do a lot of what you want. Discord is not great as general communication app and Skype well its Skype isn’t it.

I am still using Hangouts

Good morning

I did actually dust off my old Skype account but I didn’t get very far. I was getting fed-up at that point; I’m not sure how many of contacts are still using it or are just left-overs in my address book; and it felt a lot like Hangouts to me: wandering abandoned throught the consumer messaging landscape while it’s conjoined twin won accolades in the enterprise market.

If you’re on Google then Hangouts is definitely the easiest to use so I’ll probably be Hangingout until its hard retirement. But there’s a big difference in video quality between Hangouts and Duo (in favour of Duo).

Have you managed to find anything decent. Hangouts seems to be getting flakier and flakier as it heads towards death.

For some reason it doesn’t always ring when a message comes in.

Good evening

The short answer is No.

The long answer is …

From Google, for voice and video they are definitely putting their efforts into Duo and it shows - the quailty and reliability is much better than Hangouts.

Duo is also one of the few that has a full featured web client. And you can join Duo without a phone number (they really want you to have one but if click Skip enough times you will get through).

However there’s no Chat in Duo and GMail is still intimately integrated with Hangouts.

If you use Pulse SMS on your phone and desktop (web) it can be the chat component and on your phone it integrates Duo nicely (on the web there’s no documented URL pattern to launch Duo directly in to call so that’s still a manual process).

Let us know if you find anything.

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