Over the past decade and a half, Google has introduced more than a dozen messaging services for text, voice, and video calls.
Now, Google’s messaging efforts continued this week with the general availability of Google Chat, a service that combines features from services like Slack and Discord with more traditional messaging.
A new report from The Verge notes that while this announcement might seem to bring more clarity and consistency to Google’s various messaging offerings, “there’s still plenty of confusion to go around.”
Here’s a breakdown of Google’s major messaging offerings over the years, with currently active services in bold:
Messaging services: Google Talk, Google Plus Huddle, Google Hangouts, Google Allo, Google Chat, plus innumerable chat features built into other Google products we won’t mention here
SMS/RCS services: Google Voice, Android Messages app with RCS chat integration
Video conferencing services: Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Plus Hangouts, Google Duo, Google Meet
Collaboration software: Google Wave, Google Plus circles, Google Docs chat, Google Chat
That’s quite the list of messaging services, and it highlights Google’s penchant of creating new services compounded with its struggle to combine these numerous products under one umbrella.
Facebook and Apple, on the other hand, have seemed to nail the opposite approach — WhatsApp ties its service to a user’s phone number and it allows for both video, voice, and messaging chat, all in one app. Apple’s uses both a users’ email and phone number for iMessage (for text and voice) and FaceTime (for voice and video).
As The Verge notes, Google, for its part, keep falling into the same vicious cycle that’s repeated itself a number of times over the years.
“It’ll build out new services, integrating them into more areas of its product lineup, then try to wipe the slate clean, launch new services that (eventually) replace the old set, and start the cycle anew,” reads the report.
If anything is clear in 2021, it’s that Google’s messaging future will probably remain confusing for quite some time. Check out the entire timeline of Google’s various messaging apps over at The Verge.