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As a result of Google’s “try everything” approach to messaging, the company currently has four major competing messaging apps: Hangouts, Allo, Duo, and Android Messages. Hangouts is becoming an enterprise app to compete with Slack, called “Hangouts Chat” instead of being a consumer focused app.
That transition is taking awhile and at some point, Google will need to clear up its messaging for consumers that are still using Hangouts for personal texting.
Samsung phones will also support Chat using Samsung’s app.
You will still be able to download Google’s app if you’d prefer to use it, though it seems unlikely that third-party developers will be able to create full RCS-enabled apps.
Sabharwal has to find a way to make the default texting experience on Android not just good, but part of a dominant global network that can actually compete with the likes of Whats App, Facebook Messenger, and i Message.
And he needs to do it without alienating any of the hundreds of powerful companies that have a stake in the smartphone market.
And Duo, Google’s new-ish video chat app, is actually surprisingly successful; a quarter of Duo calls are to or from an i Phone.
In order to have some kind of victory in messaging, Google first had to admit defeat. Instead, think of it more like a new set of features inside the app already installed on most Android phones.
As part of that effort, Google says it’s “pausing” work on its most recent entry into the messaging space, Allo.
It’s the sort of “pause” that involves transferring almost the entire team off the project and putting all its resources into another app, Android Messages.
Right now, the company’s guidance is that “the consumer version of Hangouts will be upgraded to Hangouts Chat ...
but our focus for Hangouts still rests on enterprise/team communication and messaging.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a free version was made available to consumers someday, but, as with Allo, if might be time to start looking for alternatives.