If you have ever used Android, then you may be familiar with the various messaging and chat clients that Google has provided you throughout the years. There was Google Talk, Google Hangouts, Google Messenger, Google Allo, etc. Some of them no longer exist, some have been repurposed, some have been renamed and some have/had no support in a long time.
Now it appears that Google will be trying to unify and have one primary messaging and chat app for the Android OS with the backing of a number of telecommunication companies, mobile phone manufacturers and service providers. This is sorely what the Android platform really needs if it wants to catch up to Apple and the iMessage system that they have.
This information appears to have been broken exclusively by The Verge and propagated through other media outlets afterwards. When I watched their video and read the article I was excited, and still am. However I do have some reservations with what they are offering. Some of these are unfortunately unavoidable while others are concerns based on how Google likes to work.
What excites me:
- A single, unified, quality chat and messaging app:
- I don’t need to have Allo, Messages, etc on my Android device. There is just one default app now called Chat.
- Support from a number of third parties:
- From the telecommunication companies to the mobile phone manufacturers, it appears to be backed.
- Charged for data messages instead of SMS where possible:
- Data messages cost me significantly less than a standard SMS. Anything to save some money is fantastic.
What concerns me:
- No end to end encryption:
- With all the snooping, data gathering and harvesting, ensuring that your messages are readable by only the intended parties IMO is critical.
- iMessage has the leg up here.
- Long term support from Google and third parties:
- Will the third parties drop support soon after launching?
- Google has a habit of:
- Throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.
- Constantly drop support for apps and services when they get bored and try to start again.
- Not letting apps and services mature before they get cut or dropped.
Looking at the list of operators, Telstra appears to be on the list so that is good for me. HMD Global/Nokia appears to not be on that list, but that may change in the future as they seem to be going the route of pure stock Android. Having Microsoft onboard is also great because it could mean that a Windows 10 desktop client may also be in the works.
Messaging on Android may get a cleaner and uniform in 2018, but for how long?