Then they killed off the jabber client to force users further into their software ecosystem. Then Hangouts came along and has to some degree replaced Talk with further ties into that ecosystem.
Then they removed browser support for anything but Chrome in Hangouts, initially promising to re-extend support, yet today the docs have changed to just say you must install Chrome.
The most recent eco-system tie-in that this article doesn't mention is Google Hangouts Meet. The corporate conference room version of Hangouts that has a different interface, custom Google hardware, and less memorable links (/xcf-fges-sce vs. /organization/meeting-name).
Pixel has similar limitations when it comes to screen mirroring, only a Chromecast will do for the Pixel! Yet other android phones freely connect to Chromecast/Roku/Firestick/etc all because of a hidden menu setting that Google has disabled and set to 0 by default. You must root your phone to get around it. Great flagship right?
All this points to a company that's so fucking worried that their tech is going to be outpaced by the little guy that they have to resort to handcuffing users to their wares. I've almost completely switched to Slack in the mean time.
Today, ironically your choices for relatively straightforward messaging on the PC/Mac are: iMessage (Mac only), Skype for Business (the consumer client is too distracting for words), Whatsapp Web, or go with a "heavyweight" website/app like Slack (which is painful if all you want is IM and none of Slack's extra features).
I have to wonder what the product managers were thinking.
* this is not used pejoratively, I recognize people use IM tools in different contexts
Chat apps are the posterchild of what happens when open standards (irc, jabber, xmpp,...) get replaced with walled gardens.
On my phone I run: Telegram, Messenger, Viber, whatsapp, hangouts, signal, slack and SMS.
I should have installed skype as well, but its the worst chat app ever that kills your battery instantly. There are others as well but enough is enough.
How did we get here? I regularly need to think where should I message someone or where is a specific chat group....
Imagine you had to do this for every email service provider.
To me it feels like the open standards never really kept up with the times, which in a way paved the way to walled gardens by the giants (and, in case of Slack, not so giants) to fill the gap which the open standards refused to fill.
I mean, sure IRC is awesome, text-only, channels, but emojis are limited to ASCII, inline GIFs are non-existent, and file-sharing (and/or storage) is rather clunky from what I remember from the old times.
And then we have XMPP which doesn't support things like video or voice calling (or at least it didn't last time I checked) and it's not very surprising that companies just capitalize on that and make their own platforms.
Don't take me wrong though... it creeps me out how the company where I work trusts Slack with reams and reams of confidential documents, but I guess it's convenient to an extent which no other platform is.
The Jingle extension is about a decade old and it's what Google based its support on. They even played ball for a while and released a good quality open libjingle, then decided that fighting spam from the other open XMPP networks is not worth their time and killed the whole openness concept - despite being an orders of magnitude simpler problem than email spam.
I think now the only escape from the walled gardens is regulatory pressure forcing interconnect of the larger players (Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc.) at least at text chat level.
However, it's a very capable protocol. Just see how nice conversations.im is. It doesn't even use GCM, and both latency and energy usage are fantastic.
If you use a client that conforms to the Advanced Client requirements of the IM and Mobile Compliance Suites (with a similarly up-to-par server), you will have a very good experience.
For macOS, you may want to try Adium or Psi. Or you can use https://movim.eu/ which, though a web client, has fairly good feature support as well.
Sounds good on paper, sure, but ultimately it will end up being a predictable bureaucratic mess, causing more harm than good:
a) The mandatory 'open' standard that gets produced will end up being designed by committees of management teams from 6-7 major companies, each with their own list of feature requests and no central 'vision'.
b) A lack of a cohesive strategy and (critically) a lack of real incentives by the members to partake will result in endless delays, slow moving technological progress, layers of old cruft that never gets removed, and toxic political infighting causing confusion among vendors.
c) The standard ends up being so complex and involved that it isolates other small/medium sized players (or large foreign players) from joining in, eliminating the 'openness' the original regulation envisioned and crippling competition.
d) Ultimately reduces the ability for developers to get paid via monetization and grow via capital investments in the US, as non-regulated open-source projects (or foreign private apps) gain a major advantage of not having to be forced to use the standard. Cannibalizing the market the big players spent so much time/money building.
It's not just about good intentions and spotting a tough problem, it's about whether they can realistically and effectively achieve the end goals...
TLDR: open-source and the global nature of technology, lack of incentives, design by committee, regulatory agencies staffed by the very same companies it's regulating, etc, etc will result in the crippling of innovation and harm the quality of chat apps in the US.
The takeaway from the USB success is not to design a new protocol by committee, rather pick a mature open standard - for textual chats there are several mature ones.
Could we assume that we all understand the downside of regulations ? but that we still suggest some when the market fall into a bad optimum (bad for the consumer).
If you don't agree that the market is stuck in a bad place, fine you can argue that.
Slack is showing that the usefulness and popularity of a chat app has exactly 0% to do with whether it uses an open or closed protocol.
It's all about product design and user interface.
Anyway, in some time Slack will probably fade away as quickly as it appeared, further contributing to the problem grandparent noticed and you seem to misunderstand.
Emoji, gifs, fuck off.
It doesn't need you to be logged in on any phone however. You can use just the desktop app. In fact I am on some really crowded and hyperactive Telegram groups so can't even imagine keeping it on my phone. Besides not a single one of my IRL friends use Telegram. I see 3-4 names, maybe they had signed up once.
It is for Whatsapp. Not only for sign-up, but actually all communication on the web version goes through the app running on your phone. The web "session" times out constantly, so I'd have to re-pair it with my phone all the time. If I still decided to use whatsapp.
Source: I did this for a few months. I'm not quite sure why...
How on earth does that work? Say my phone's on data, my laptop's on my home wifi with NAT. How does Whatsapp on the web reach my phone?
Threema doesn't require a phone number but it's not free.
-  https://hitta.se
Perhaps one of the virtual SIM card offerings would work with Signal though.
I'm juggling too many SIM cards and phones already. I don't want any new dependencies that complicate matters further.
I cannot ever let go of the phone number I used to activate Signal. In practice, that means I need to keep paying for a phone tariff I may no longer want.
It is true though that you do need to maintain a phone number. That is one of the trade-offs they made to allow it to actually be usable. I have not seen a better solution for encrypted communication yet.
What's wrong with the way Threema does it for instance, which is essentially to bind the identity to a key pair that you can back up?
[Edit] And I think it's essentially the same with WhatsApp, only they now make it a less manual process.
No smartphone is required for JMP, only an XMPP client (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16352711 for some client options).
All it require is a phone number, besides it's Snowden approved :)
it appears to exist only for Android phones.
It's nothing but a joke that you'd have to switch to a "lite" version that is built explicitly for India [because of bad infrastructure] just to make it work in a country with much better infrastructure.
It's like buying a low-end car built for Indian market, because your regular car doesn't fit on the narrow roads in the US, the fuel consumption is too high, it leaks oil constantly and there is no service because nobody cares.
A paired down debloated skype sounds like a godsend to me.
And skype lite is definitely lacking in configuration, like the ability to make emoticons less annoying.
(I've also switched to skype lite for the remaining two chats I'm in that use skype, now that the slightly-older android version stopped connecting and the newest interface is amazingly painful and laggy.)
That billions of people were using WeChat and WhatsApp, and they wanted a piece of that? I'm guessing that's the motivation.
As for the enterprise use case, I'm not really sure why nobody cares. Every company I've worked for has had their own internal system for IM-like functionality, some better than others. Microsoft has one included with Outlook whose name escapes me. At Google we used Hangouts, and despite everyone complaining about it, it mostly worked well enough. You typed a message in it and at some high percentage probability, the other person got it. It was fine.
My complaint has always been intrinsic to the medium, it lets people bug you Right Not for very low cost. "Hi, I see you're currently triple-booked with meetings, but I'm bored and I want you to chat with me and I'm much too lazy to think about my problem long enough to type a one-paragraph email and then wait for you to reply when you have free time." No.
For personal stuff, my group of friends uses Discord these days. It doesn't alleviate any complaints that you might have about other services, though. It is IRC-like and has voice/video chat. It has a native app, but it's whatever that framework is that calls bundling 1 kilobyte of HTML with three hundred gigabytes of a Chrome fork a "native app".
I also think you'd get better customer service from your local DMV than Discord:
Mircrosoft's current stab at this is called Teams. I think it actually has potential: it's pretty much a clone of Slack, except that MS is willing to declare it compliant with, e.g., HIPAA.
So far I can stick with Lync/Skype for Business at my day job, which is bad too but.. slimmer, and does the job. Most of the time.
Still easier to ignore on a chat than if it entered the inbox or if they call you in the middle of a meeting?
It's only 90 KB (!)
Right now there's an old barely usable alpha out, but a new release is coming up next week.
Line messenger is not supported, but eul is modular, and everyone will be able to add support of custom messengers in the future as long as they have an open API (which Line seems to have).
Did you consider open-sourcing it? More people would probably be willing to give it a try and support you on patreon if it was.
They too though made a Google-like transition and went from an open protocol (IRC/XMPP) to a closed/custom API. At least here, the server admin can enable those protocols if they want and the API seems to offer enough features that someone could probably integrate Slack into another IRC-like client.
Disclaimer: I help run a small Matrix network.
As for the XMPP gateway it's just barely usable. From my personal experience it even tended to drop messages from time to time. It seems Slack added it just to claim XMPP compatibility. Just look at where is Slack placed in this ranking https://conversations.im/compliance/
By default feature creep tends to win out over less visible improvements: supporting the latter requires active effort from management.
Your description is reasonable for people working on a project. (But even inside hangouts there was dissent. I don't know too much about the specifics, and probably wouldn't be allowed to tell, if I did..)
Which has a horrible UX.
Personally, I use trillian to connect to facebook, jabber and others. But FB is always working hard to make that integration as bad as possible.
Also, I really don't understand the appeal of pushing 100s of these chat apps out. I.e. Slack, Discord, allo, whats app, etc. They're not compatable with each other. You have to have a 100 different clients installed. Many which their desktop version requires 2 cpus and 128gb of ram to run each of them.
There is a nice overview in "The State of Mobile XMPP in 2016" where you can see how far behind XMPP is compared to nearly everything else. By 2016 nearly everyone could work over mobile networks, offline messaging, push notifications, syncing between multiple devices, file uploads, end-to-end encryption etc. XMPP had a plethora of experimental XEPs with unknown support across clients and servers. And not much has changed in the past year.
So let's say you have the only client in existence that supports all these XEPs, Conversations for Android . What can you do with it? Oh, you'd have to find a server that supports all your features and talk to people on the same client. And that's about it. For everybody else you're stuck with plain text messages.
It will only get worse for XMPP. AliChat and WeChat has long been the way to pay for anything in China, with over a trillion dollars flowing through their systems annually. Apple, Facebook, Google, Telegram are busy adding payment capabilities to their platforms. It will be years before a relevant XEP is drafted, and another few years before maybe one client and maybe one server will start supporting it.
None of that changes the fact that email is a useful and reliable way to send a text message to someone. In the same way XMPP is a useful and reliable way to send a text message to someone. If all you have is a lowest common denominator there is no point in dismissing it for something that doesn't exist.
- there have been countless attempts to improve email (anything from threading, to automatic contact info to inline images to file previews, to adding interactivity to emails, to... to...)
- the younger generation prefers anything but email
(I sincerely hope this comment isn't too prescient.)
Slack is very much an organizational groupware product, with chat done well. Not the utopia federated XMPP promises, but frankly, XML just needs to die. (Which, not coincidentally, is part of what attracted me to work on the telehash specification.)
Well, fuck me. I can't be bothered to keep up with their changing product lineup, naming, marketing, whatever TF this is.
I just use non-Google stuff, now, for chat/video.
FB Messenger may be busy selling my soul, but at least it's still "Messenger" and actually fucking works. Which is why pretty much everyone has it installed and knows at least basically how to use it.
If I could just get my associates and friends to start using Signal or the like... (Of course, Signal could improve their UI a bit. NOT more fucking emojis, but instead making it very clear and easy to opt out of making it the default texting app (on Android). That is, not a big bar to opt in, with a little X within that bar to opt out. Tired of explaning that each time, to "normal" people, before they get back to me complaining that their texting doesn't look/work the same, any more.
P.S. As I recall now, that other piece is Allo.
If I even understand things correctly. I couldn't bring myself to read up on this thoroughly; I kept feeling the desire to throttle somebody.
P.P.S. And I remember when, a few years ago, they REALLY wanted everybody to move to Hangouts. Including integrating their SMS activity. Only, this had significant bugs, including aspects of data loss and the irreversibility of changing to their set up. That they seemed to have little real momentum in fixing -- or even communicating clearly upon.
I guess I should actually read the OP. But I'm not sure my blood pressure can take it, now.
On mobile, if you don't know how else to reach out to someone, Messenger's your best chance. Closest thing to a modern-day AIM that I've seen, in terms of ubiquity.
Allo is a text chat app with lots of options for stickers and end-to-end encryption disabled by default.
I don't have a strong need for either of these apps.
I tried to like it, I really did.
So, Hangouts is not facing some declared or expected EOL, at this point?
> If you use hangouts.google.com for video calls, or need help on chat, visit the classic Hangouts Help Center.
But they didn't, the closing and interconnecting of Google's product ecosystem was the beginning of a trend which is now seen across most of their offerings:
The Pixel has silly restrictions as I mentioned. Android apps, Drive, Docs and the office suite apps have gone stale since they came out of beta and lack the commitment to open source that Google once championed.
Even their new HTML replacement, AMP, is heavily tied to Google resources, requiring entirely different implementations of the same experiences between the HTML and AMP versions further handcuffing the buyer to their ecosystem and the buyer's customers to Chrome.
Actually, I just went over there and Google+ looks like it's working just fine. Many parts of it are thriving and there seems to be a lot of activity in communities. Google+ is niche. Just because it doesn't have the ubiquitous adoption level of Facebook doesn't mean it failed.
I really hate this attitude in our circles that unless an app devours everything else and becomes a unicorn, it's a total failure.
Maybe I wasn't clear. My point is that it is Google's attitude right now. If a product is not "a unicorn" they instead rush to something else (Talk->Hangouts->Allo) or kill it (Reader, Wave). Being niche product in Google is just dangerous for that product.
In 2015, Mozilla announced that it would drop support for NPAPI plugins in 2017, giving websites using NPAPI plugins ~18 months to switch to a non-plugin solution. When the NPAPI deadline came, Google announced the Hangouts would stop working in Firefox, they were "actively working to develop a solution" for Firefox, and until then Hangouts users should use another browser:
It's 2018 and Google is still working to support WebRTC in Firefox, but they're definitely working on it. In fact, WebRTC Hangouts does mostly work in Firefox now, but only for users with a G Suites enterprise account whose admin has manually enabled Hangouts. I don't know why.
"Hangouts Meet" is a different product using WebRTC whose support for Firefox is still in development.
I've been documenting this saga on this Mozilla wiki as part of the NPAPI deprecation and Win64 Firefox rollout:
The only solution was to use Chrome... which worked until very recently. Now I get the same problem with Chrome too, albeit the timeout is much longer, perhaps an hour or so or sometimes longer.
Everything is fucked.
By the way, this is Apple bug 29018740. It might help if someone makes another bug report and references this bug, though I doubt it because when the latest Safari version was released (with the bug still present, of course), I mentioned this to Apple and they responded:
> Thank you for contacting us. If this is still an issue for you on current releases, please file a new bug report.
By the way, this is just for text messaging. For voice/video Hangouts became unusable earlier than that. The video quality is approximately 120p and the audio is 1kbps or less, and I can't talk because noise cancellation doesn't work and I hear myself back with a 2 second delay and 80dB gain. Don't even get me started on CPU utilization yet...
And now - we have dozens of clients, such that there's no way of knowing which subset your contacts use. With the prevalence of phones, it's hard to tell if someone is available or not, so you just send messages in the ether, and get surprised if anyone responds.
And the worst part is, there's no obvious fix, since any new system will just add to the fragmentation.
Now, in the smartphone era, there's nothing like that. There's a bunch of different completely siloed apps, and I can't talk to people all from one place.
The consumer really has been the loser now that Apple, Google, and Facebook have walled off their messengers.
Now it's just more trouble than it's worth.
In Pidgin, you actually had it all in one place, with the UX defined by Pidgin.
That's another bad thing about current fragmentation. You have no way to unify the UX.
This business practice of pushing the product unsustainably in order to drive out the competition was rightly condemned when WalMart did it. I don't see a similar public backlash in the tech sphere these days.
...Guess who bought it and killed it? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meebo
> In June 2012, Google acquired Meebo to merge the company's staff with the Google+ developers team.
The web (http) and internet were conduits for information and communication. Now the pipe is a dumb channel each companies territory.
I miss pidgin where you had AIM, ICQ, IRC, Gtalk and whatever others. I also miss how companies are pushing their app instead of improving their mobile presence on the web.
More and more often these days you'll find at the bottom of a community info page a discord rather than an IRC channel. Even big pirating communities are making the switch.
It doesn't start out that way. First you have a lot of people pushing their favourite barrows. Then they set up IRC gateways. Then they bleed users to IRC. I've been to a few conferences that keep actual statistics of messages published, and it's always the same.
But it's well hidden. No one gives up pushing their barrow, so if you just listen to the conference gossip you would never know it's happening.
Bug or feature?
It’s the sort of random encounter / friendship that you could have in the pre-2005 internet and that’s much harder today.
Indeed, ICQ was vastly superior. In fact, in my opinion, many of its features (such as the discovery features) have not been equalled since them. It was quite traumatic to me when it was replaced with MSN Messenger.
Given that the A in AIM stands for America, I'd call that a pretty damn narrow definition of "everyone".
The A in AIM stands for AOL.
The A in AOL stands for America.
It always did (they just weren't going to pay Kentucky for their fraudulent trademark) and still does - https://www.snopes.com/lost/kfc.asp
> In November 2006, KFC and the State of Kentucky finally reached an undisclosed settlement over the former’s use of the trademarked word “Kentucky,” and the restaurant chain announced it would be resuming its former name of “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
> You’ve just had an encounter with False Authority Syndrome.
> Everything in this section is a spoof.... As for Mississippi’s doing away with teaching fractions and decimals in its school systems because kids find them too hard to master, that’s no more true than Kentucky’s imposing a licensing fee on uses of its name
(Sadly I can no longer edit the original otherwise I would add a Mea Culpa.)
Plus there’s always the VC around the corner hoping to fund the next Whatsapp, so we get a proliferation of me too-apps.
I’ve never really paid much attention to or trusted presence status, with the exception of statuses that are manually set (e.g. do not disturb in Slack and similar).
It’s kind of funny, considering that presence is probably the most challenging technical requirement for large-scale messaging platforms. I will say that my two most-used messaging platforms, iMessage and Slack, both usually do a great job of delivering push notifications to only the ideal device (my phone, tablet, or computer). My intuition is that this logic is roughly the same as presence.
I'm glad you've been blessed with whatever Apple Magic lets iMessage work across devices for you but between my iPad iPhone and MacBook all I can say is I follow up important messages with a phone call because it's one of the more unreliable and indecipherable systems I've never been able to figure out.
No going half-way into that ecosystem.
Facebook Messenger definitely does the best job. I believe it shows the delivery status of every single message.
That was never true. AIM was very popular in some places and had no foothold in others. In my area it was first ICQ and later MSN. Nobody, except one buddy from Seattle, used AIM.
It's a miracle that the web works the way it does. So perhaps we need a consortium (like W3C) for messaging too?
Otherwise, no matter what the committee does, it's doomed to fail because there is no incentive to support them.
And given that no one wants interop with their systems (except for some users, but who cares about them?), an interest group is unlikely to appear.
That consortium created AMQP, which is a fucking abomination of a protocol. You can read through the spec and see the design-by-committee chimeric parts.
I'm not convinced that it's a good approach, basically.
Especially as an iPhone user, I am constantly befuddled trying to get a semblance of a well organized contact list between my google apps, never mind a correspondence between the iPhone native contact list.
I have a google voice number, and generally I assume that messages get to me one way or another.
The most recent baffled was finally understanding that there is no way to manage contacts from within the iOS Hangouts app. I’m actually not sure how that contact list is generated.
As I've heard from chatting with engineers and PMs at Google, the biggest rewards go to those that take a product to its first major release and the initial marketing fanfare.
After hitting 1.0 you typically see teams break up, the star engineers moving on to the next big thing. Once that happens the pace of the products development slows significantly, leading to ignored user feedback and a struggle make improvements.
The product mothballs for some years until - in the case of something like Google Talk - momentum is generated around replacing it with the next 1.0 product.
And so on...
Teams is supposed to fix everything... but my O365 tenant doesn’t have it yet.
edit: "All" they did was come along at the right time and make the interoperability easy. The prerequisites to have done it at all? Smartphones, WebRTC, and ElasticSearch.
I wonder if we need a new word for "interoperability in the time of SaaS" - the kind of where SaaSes talk to other SaaSes via locked down APIs, under absolute control of the vendor.
In order to do what Slack is doing, they have to be somewhat committed to open standards. They are just doing webhooks, like GitHub does. We tried specifying microformats, and we tried specifying webhooks, but the "loose RPC" model... Seems to work way better than XMPP server interoperability ever has.
I recommend this recent nested Twitter ("new crowd") thread amongst Stewart Butterfield and many other early web folk, about whether Slack is a web app: https://twitter.com/stewart/status/961704310613491712
Capturing email, files and love communication drives subscription revenue for E5 SKUs of 365, plus most companies will need Azure AD to meet their security and compliance requirements.
We ran the numbers at work... taking the blue pill and going all on Microsoft will 3x our lifetime value to them vs a standard E3 shop.
One of my colleagues pointed out that the IM client from Exchange 2003 era (I think it was Live Communications Server) and LiveMeeting were a better collaboration platform than SfB, even given the severe limitations on bandwidth and cpu.
We recently switched to it for a world wide support team and it's a step down.
- No direct quoting, only threaded replies in group chats.
- No linking to Threads, even though you can personally bookmark it
- No message indications except in 1 on 1 chats ad hoc chats, so if you're in a large group thread, you have no idea if someone is paying attention or not
- Poor UI decisions (the menu which appears over messages for "options/bookmark/like" will obscure messages if the same user sent two messages in a row; because it appears over the right-most part and the second of two messages from the same user doesn't include the user info, the menu will hide whatever's at the end of the message).
- Scrolling back in a message thread (group or personal) is pointless, as messages take so long to load, and it seems to load sequentially. (i.e., you can't just scroll to approximately where you think the message is; if you scroll for 10 minutes, it will still just load the most recent messages before continuing)
- Search has no proper way of search only one conversation, it's all or nothing.
- The mobile app is incredibly slow to sync regardless of whether it's on data or wireless.
I could go on for awhile on this. I honestly wonder if anyone at Microsoft even tried to use Teams before they released it, since everything about it feels like it was just tossed in there and the devs weren't allowed to look at what other collaborative chat apps did to make them good. Even their "me too" implementation of things like giphy integration or inserting photos in to the chat is very poor (dragging a photo from desktop will insert it into the thread, but dragging it from the web will upload it to sharepoint, though both take very long to upload). Accessing Sharepoint content takes a long time because Microsoft's login to the Office 365 space takes a long time. All text is actually rich text, but for some reason they included a pseudo markdown syntax which just toggles the rich text functions (bold, italics, etc) whether you mean to or not. You can't just escape these characters either since it's not that well thought out of a function.
When we briefly had Skype For Business, I thought that Microsoft couldn't do any worse, but they really did their homework for Teams and made a real horrible product that works for basically no one.
On Linux it does not even show the screen shared by others (Windows) users. In the old Skype (not for Business) client Linux users could even share. For corporations progress means removing working functionality.
You also cannot manage contacts in any app on android besides the contacts app, or, probably better for you: http://contacts.google.com
If I'm their target audience, then this strategy is an unqualified failure. Obviously I'm not their target audience -- I'm an outlier in almost every respect -- but I've yet to see an analysis which suggested that Google has actually succeeded in capturing more eyeballs or generating more revenue via this strategy. In fact I haven't really seen any business analysis of this at all, other than blaming the business-types for making these decisions. Which is probably correct, but I'd still be very curious to see whether those decisions paid off, purely on their own terms.
Now I'm thinking about hosting my own calendars (kind of easy) and email (scary).
Unfortunately, everything about Google Voice/Hangouts/Talk/Whatever-it-is now sucks. Trying to find someone is damn near impossible. I totally can attest to that. The removal of federated and regular XMPP was the wrong direction.
I'm in the wonderfully weird situation of not having a Gmail account either. I deleted it and ran my own mail server back in 2012. I use DavDroid/Radicle for contacts, so in the web interface, any contacts after 2012 that are SMS are phone number only. I have to use my phone to see the names.
I don't think it's even possible to find someone via gmail address anymore. Occasionally I'd find someone on Google Plus .. and have no freakin idea how the hell to send them a personal message (either in G+ or Hangouts).
The whole Hangouts/G+/Gmail ecosystem is awful. If you don't have a gmail account, it's beyond unusable. I pretty much just use Hangouts for legacy chats.
AIM/Yahoo/MSN all worked .. and now they're all gone (I think Yahoo is still there, but web only). Facebook was unreliable as shit and god awful until around 2013/2014. It took them that long to create someone their competitors had done better a decade ago.
That's probably WHY Google Voice was one of the best products Google put out.
There's a reason users/clients have come to fear the Google acquisition of a product they've come to depend on and in which they've vested hopes of continued improvements and solutions.
At least Google hasn't outright put a bullet in Voice, yet.
I'm preparing for that day, when GVoice dies.
There are lots of great XMPP clients, such as Conversations on Android, and Gajim or Adium on desktop. Or use https://movim.eu/ if you like a web client. iOS has a few options as well, including Tigase Messenger and IM+.
Unless you're very careful, they mush together your Voice and Fi accounts, irreversibly.
When Fi was in its early days, a lot of Fi users found this out the hard way and were pissed about it. People who'd been using Voice, maintaining a separate Voice #, and who wanted to keep it that way. Who DIDN'T want that number suddenly tied to a/their cell phone.
(Hint: Create a separate browser profile (not just a Google account, but an actual separate profile under its own sub-directory). Sign up for a different Gmail/Google account. Use one account for Google Voice, and the other for Google Fi. Don't accidentally cross-pollinate.)
I want to get off Google products for many reasons, but the main reason is becoming that I can't trust them to listen to users.
How long have you been working on it? What's the exit strategy look like? How big is the team currently?
I noticed that your blog hasn't updated in over two years, while I recognize that making blog posts is time-consuming, when it comes to software that just gives the feeling that the author has abandoned the project. Maybe consider linking to an area you still frequent?
Based on https://gitlab.com/ossguy/sgx-catapult/commits/master and https://gitlab.com/ossguy/jmp-fwdcalls/commits/master it looks like I've been working on JMP's codebase for a little over 13 months now. Prior to that I worked on JMP's precursor (see https://github.com/ossguy/sopranica - also called "Phase 0"), which started about 4 years ago, and was more part-time.
Since I and a lot of my friends depend on JMP for their everyday communication, I'm not really interested in "exiting". If the project were to be sold, it would have to be to someone who cared about keeping the software free and open source, and who wanted to keep it on a federated network. I suspect going public would be a bad idea, because most of the public (i.e. investors) doesn't(/don't) care about JMP's values.
We publish an update on JMP and related projects every 1-2 months. We recently started using Mailman so you can find the past couple updates at https://soprani.ca/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/jmp-news and signup if you like. For day-to-day updates, you can join our group chat at https://firstname.lastname@example.org (more options for joining are at https://jmp.chat/#support , including directly from your XMPP client). That's where the majority of project-related communication happens.
And if that happens, likely someone will setup another instance and keep the same service running. That's another great advantage of JMP over Google Voice: all the code is free and open source, so anyone is free to run their own instance if they like. In fact, you could run your own instance right from the start and then be in complete control of whether JMP keeps working for you.
Now we've had a dozen renames and replacements, XMPP is long gone, and what's left is an almost unusable mess. Add to that the dozens of people I once had connected on Adium (from memory most on Google talk) are now strewn across loads of different chat apps.
These days I'm texting more again! This really isn't the future I expected.
A while back one member of our group got tired of the 8 person running group thread we have and suggested moving to something "better". The group unanimously shot it down because we don't want to download new apps, create new accounts, then inevitably have to migrate to the brand new flashy service in 3 months.
For context, we're all late 20s/early 30s.
Edit: Actually, I believe SMS is still superior because it works even without a data connection. We spend enough time camping, skiing, attending huge sporting events, etc. any of those other services would be a significant downgrade.
And even if it were enough, a Spanish user won't pay 2 or 4 € for something that they can get for free. In fact when Whatsapp had the idea of charging a symbolic amount and suspended access to some accounts due to not paying, people started switching to Telegram en masse (Telegram even went down due to that), then they gave back access and abandoned the idea of charging.
Either install 27 apps or decide enough is enough. I've had just about enough until one can aggregate like Adium used to.
I'm especially curious because Google is famous for basing its decisions on "data". I have no idea how things work in Google, but I can say that every company I've worked at that supposedly valued "data" in meetings actually valued something darker. The use of "data" in meetings tends to be a passive aggressive negotiating tactic for a group of people who for cultural or emotional reasons don't think it is reasonable to express strong disagreement or actual anger. Instead of expressing strong emotion, people are taught to quote data -- they then cherry pick whatever statistics back up their beliefs.
As far as I know, there has never been a company that said "We want the worst informed people to make the decisions" so in a sense all companies have always valued data. But they didn't make a fetish out of it. They simply expected people to be well informed, and to make intelligent arguments, based on what they know. That would have been true at General Motors in 1950. That much has probably been true at most companies for centuries. When management says that the company is going to be "data driven" they are implicitly asking for a particular type of interaction to happen in meetings, an elaborate dance where people hide their emotions and quote statistics.
I can't cover all the nuances of company meetings in a comment on Hacker News, and of course I am not advocating that meetings should be abusive, but I do think it can be healthy to tell meeting participants that it is culturally acceptable to advocate strongly, and with emotion, for what they think the right policy is.
Google seems like an example of how a "data driven" company can go off the rails. I'm not sure what their meetings are like, but I know that in interviews the management at Google talks about their focus on data, yet their brand image continues to decline.
And of course, I'm on the record in believing there should be less group meetings and more one on one meetings, at every company that I've ever worked:
It sounds like you're basically saying that as with programming styles, wellness, activism, and everything else in the world: there is a basis of truth that underpins data-centric management, but you can easily make it into a cult.
You put that idea together so succinctly - thank you.
I'd love to dive more into the Android/Google side of things, but these sentiments are (unfortunately) making me think twice about doing so. I'd like to read different perspectives if they are out there.
I’ve moved further and further from google for my personal email and communications, for all the reasons elucidated above. However, for my commercial presence, I opened a gsuite account because it seamlessly brought together - and kept together - disparate components that I wanted to be able to use in a device-agnostic manner for myself and my team. I could have brought things together from a half dozen different, possibly better, services but gsuite was basically one-stop-shopping. I didn’t want to spend time getting the tools together, I wanted to spend it on the job at hand. The communications tools are good enough.
That said, I may change my mind about that. For getting work done I still find Outlook kicks the shit out of gmail, and Microsoft Live or 365 or whatever they call it has a very very solid online office suite (and their offline tools remain best in class, IMO). Todoist integrates with both. I’m just lazy about non-mission-critical upgrades. I don’t have a good replacement for google hangouts, though. Skype is a festering tire-fire, and I don’t ever want to use a webex unless I’m being held at gunpoint by the Cisco CTO.
Every app on iOS has a paywall, integrations are limited, apps can't process your SMS, stuff like this enrages me. Actually I couldn't even find a good way to transfer images/codes both ways, like I do with PushBullet on Chrome + Android all the time.
For me iOS also misses taps and lags on some operations. If using Swiftkey, sometimes the wrong keyboard will pop-up. I feel like the image I had as an outsider that iOS was perfect and smooth kinda broke.
So I guess I cannot compare to other people because they use their phones differently: I have to test everything...
Granted I'm by no means saying Google's messaging strategy is optimal, but it's not totally bonkers.
And the adage "you aren't the user" seems apt here. This applies both to the statement that Google's messaging tools are in decline, and to the statement that Google's brand is.
HN has been decrying google for years now, but he isn't your average consumer. Much as my extended family can all use allo and duo with ease, but I doubt my grandparents know what irc is.
I kind of think that it's difficult if not impossible to appeal to the broader set of people whole also appealing to the hn crowd. And, well, we're a lot smaller.
To loop back to your post, thats part of why data is so important. If you don't base your decisions, at least in part, on data, you end up designing a tool that's useful for you and not for your users. That's not to say that emotion has no place, but I think you're being disingenuous towards data here.
(Note:I work at Google, if that matters)
Is it really a joke at this point, though?
Googler engineering leaders and teams engaging in the replacement of good chat tech with worse happens every year or two. All to demonstrate "cross-org impact" and climb the promo ladder. This is in fact the driving force behind many of the complaints mentioned in the article.
A sad and systemic failure, indeed.
One of the most destructive issues I see from my time in management has been engineers who are more interested in re-writing what other people have already done. It seems amazing to me an organisation the size of Google hasn't identified the waste here.
There are apparently some moves afoot reforming the promo process to make this less common though. Here's hoping.
We would joke about peoples' theories of the "Balkanization of the Internet" and mostly we would look at it from the wrong angle (nation states).
Now we have an internet of walled gardens. Your data is precious and no longer yours.
And you can't do shit without agreeing to some ToS or EULA. At this point I'm actually waiting for someone to "innovate" a way to dynamically sign EULAs with the same API calls you'd use to get access tokens, just to add insult to injury...
And it's guaranteed to have some damned binding arbitration clause, if it comes from a company based in the United States, so when everything that company knows about you is "unintentionally" transmitted to every hacker and script kiddy with a modicum of PHP knowledge, you can't even band together and financially ruin the company. Not that you'd be able to get anything out of them, anyway, since 90% of them are so knee-deep in venture capital money that you'd be 9,392nd in line behind the likes Sequoia, Andreessen, Y Combinator, and Honest Achmend's Certificate Authority and Investing Company.
I guess I'm getting old but, damn, I'm really starting to hate the corporate Internet.
0 - I loathe every single one of you who has ever posted on a Hacker News thread about how horrible binding arbitration clauses are and who are also founders/CEOs/operators of companies with binding arbitration clauses in your terms of service. This goes quadruple for companies that are B2C. I do not care if "everyone else is doing it" or your "lawyers recommended it." Grow a spine and delete the clause if it's so awful. Go first. Be bold. Half points for burying an opt-out that requires faxing a notarized statement to a phone number in Saint Pierre and Miquelon. That's better than nothing.
1 - It's not "if" anymore, it's when.
Initial small enthusiastic team has a cool idea, works day and night, having a lot of fun on the project. They release it, it's cool, useful and everybody loves it. Then after a while original team members get bored or focus on other interests, move out of the team and new team members come in. Those team members aren't necessarily worse than the original ones, but have to maintain the project they didn't write. They need to show their usefulness, so they try to conjure new ideas that might not be useful at all, but hope they would be visible enough to grant them promotion within the company. They focus on some mistake/wart/non-refactored portion of code, make an essay or two to convince management that changes are needed, then slap on another feature they could be known for and proceed changing experience. Once they are done, management applauds them and customers either are lucky and have a blast with the new changes, or those changes were complete misses and started to ruin experience. This process repeats often until product is EOLed or just maintained for whatever reason.
Hangouts destroyed the google talk experience and community. Someone should have gotten fired over it. Everyone seemed to use google talk before the plus/hangouts conversion. Such a massive lost opportunity.
There are many other examples of half-baked and unmaintained software from G. For example, play music's web UI has many irritating bugs that never get fixed. I'm close to canceling my subscription.
I'd be pretty hesitant about committing all in to any of Google's enterprise offerings, like GCE, based on my experience with their other products.
All of their "products"/tools (at least after a certain point) have this end in mind. If a product does not get them enough data, they either a) bastardize it until it does, or b) kill it.
I'm sure this is not news to a lot of people, but it surprises me how often people forget that Google has no reason to care about the quality of their tools as long as enough people are using it. I'm not saying they don't make good tools, but that is why we see good tools get killed (Reader, Wave) or ruined (Hangouts, Voice).
: or they can't figure out a good way to get good ad data from it.
The crowning achievement of absurdity is probably the YouTube app, it's not as bad as Skype, but given time they may get there.
I switched away years ago, and am increasingly baffled whenever I accidentally run a google search.
All of which Google Talk managed just fine. And if you wanted more control, install a third party app, because it worked with them all.
What did we gain for this?
an important new client calls you on your google voice number, which routs to hangouts. You don't yet have their number as it isn't in your Google Contacts or your Phone Contacts.
You answer, but are busy, or need to look up something for them, and you tell them you'll call them right back.
You get the info you need and you look to your recent calls for the call THAT JUST CAME IN LITERALLY A MINUTE AGO. It's not there. Hangouts does not save incoming calls. (or at least it didn't a year ago)
Why? Who the fuck knows??!
Google Hangouts: We Don't Give A Shit.
Fucks sake, this annoys me to no end. Here is a product that's clean, lean, and fast. 5 years of development later and you have a bloated, energy-chugging, slow and irritating piece of shit, with absolutely zero added functionally to show for it.
God damn it.
Yeah, Microsoft has a lot of amazing initiatives to virtualize, emulate, and wrap interfaces around everything in the universe, which is a smart idea long-term, but they never seem to get to the phase of actually optimizing it. Someday, when we convert our entire race into pure energy, we will be able to seamlessly shift between between different levels of indirection in our matrix-like universe, but for now I'm having a lot of trouble just trying to open a single application in the first 4 minutes of booting up a Windows machine. It never used to be so bad, but every year it just keeps getting worse.
I don't know about you, but I'd trade any reasonable performance degradation for broader support of a product I use.
P.S. Also the amount of shit Google+ has fucked wrt to Google services in amazing. It also killed the "+" sign in Google's search results too.
For some like me, I didn’t mind to have my messages/conversations stored like an email (I am aware of some people’s privacy cocnerns). Even today I can go back to my Gmail and look up my conversations with friends and family. I own the conversation history, and I can export them at any given time! I can search them and sort them directly in Gmail.
Now I use WhatsApp, Messenger, text messeage, and Wechat (for different groups of people), I don’t know any mechanism to export my conversations. For WhatsApp and Messenger, I know search is only available on their desktop client... and IRRC only text search (can’t do date/time search alone) is supported and is on per contact basis. No global search...
Communication used to be, hmm, simple communication: no snap, no video, no crazy emojis and stickers :)
Google, what happened? :<
Edit: The only thing still usable is the free phone call from and to U.S. I use it all the time since carrier signal is so unreliable and uneven (and subject to surrounding environment) so I just hop on Wifi to make calls, esp at work. PLEASE DON’T KILL IT .
WhatsApp has search across all conversations in the mobile app (on iOS just pull down on the main screen) and in individual chats (tap on the chat title and select search from the menu).
Recently, however, I got a new phone. I was excited to have a usable Hangouts once again, as that's where many of my close friends are. Unfortunately, now I know that the problem is Hangouts, not my phone.
Still, Discord might actually be worth looking at - it's targeted at gamers, but it does at least small-group voice chat reasonably well in my experience.
1) We get more engagement if people add more friends to the product! Repeatedly nudge them to add ALL their friends!
2) Wow, people have a ton of friends they aren't interested in. People don't seem to know how to manage their friends list. Let's automatically pick what to show them.
So instead of one universal client, one requires Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts/Allo/Duo. (I don't use iOS but Apple have their own, I guess)
Thus if anyone wants to contact me, stay old school and use SMS or email! :)
Shower thoughts had me thinking just the other day how I wished we could have a new Pidgin like system. I have a hard time figuring out which friends use which platform and where I can get replies. I want to keep in touch with friends now that we all live in different places, but it's hard when everyone lives in a different chat app that you only have 2 contacts in. It was awesome when everyone just used one or two things.
The fallback to shitty text messaging is the only guaranteed medium for almost all people on one platform.
Gtalk was absolutely amazing, and you could even send files to your friends just so, just drag it into the window! It's 2018 and this functionality is hardly available anywhere anymore.
WhatsApp, Signal and Viber are the only ones I use and can reach most anyone worldwide.
Google screwed the pooch on their IM strategy long time ago and there's no coming back. Kind of like screwing the Google Pixel 2 by removing the 3.5 mm aux jack.
However, I'm still on IRC...so what do I know of this fancy new stuff.
Zoom is less shit than the others but still fairly awful. Slack, imo, solved instant messaging in businesses completely, but conferencing is still a wild west of garbage solutions.
The problem is that the whole space is a nightmare where none of the players actually has the best interests of the users at heart.
In an earlier post of mine  (which includes an older revision of the timeline linked in ), I speculate that it was Facebook Chat that killed the mid-2000s chat networks of old like AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and WLM, rather than Google Talk or any particular missteps of those incumbent chat networks. For example, I was surprised to learn that AIM was present in the iOS App Store at launch on 2008-07-11 -- of course, there were no push notifications at the time -- not until 2009-06.
Facebook Chat went live 2008-04-06. Google didn't view them as a threat in messaging but a threat in social networking; they thought they had messaging in the bag with their 2008-09-23 release of Android 1.0, and their 2008-11-11 update to Google Talk which brought voice and video calling, and their 2009-03-11 acquisition of GrandCentral, which was soon rebranded an invite-only Google Voice. But Facebook kept growing and growing and it had an integrated chat on a website where people went to spend their time, instead of Gmail, where they went to manage email.
To combat Facebook on social networking, Google launched Buzz with aggressive auto-opt-in on 2010-02-09. Unfortunately a few months later on 2010-05-20, Android finally got push notifications, which enabled third-party messaging apps to be viable on Android. This led to the rise of cross-platform messaging network apps like WhatsApp, whose success came back to hurt Google later.
Buzz fizzled and attracted controversy for its aggressive piggybacking on Gmail, so Google tried again with Google Plus on 2011-06-28. That was a better effort, and it included the features "+Messenger", a text chat, and the video chat "+Hangouts". By this point Facebook had more than 700 million active users, and on 2011-08-09 they introduced a standalone app for just Facebook Chat, called 'Messenger'.
On 2011-10-12, Apple released iOS 5, which came with iMessages. This significantly improved the iOS platform's story on messaging, putting further pressure on Google. Having put many of its eggs into the Google Plus basket, it needed a win, which it didn't get.
On 2013-05-15, Google liberated Hangouts from Google Plus so that it could address messaging and social networking separately. Hangouts was being repositioned as the Android-default messaging app. This helped onboard new users, but on 2014-02-19 Facebook announced it was acquiring WhatsApp. At this point Google lost, and it began to flail about, sometimes reviving long-forgotten apps like Google Voice, sometimes deprecating integrations it had encouraged previously, and then making two more messaging apps.
Sources (in detail at):
My social circle is almost exclusively Android, which may help, although the few iPhone users do work, and a lot of chatting happens through the Chrome extension/gmail window, so there's that.
I don't particularly want to chat through Facebook (Messenger is a busy, ugly mess, and the app is pretty heavyweight) and many of my contacts aren't on Whatsapp or WeChat. SMS often delays message sending and delivery in areas with spotty mobile coverage. Hangouts uses wifi first, which is ubiquitous in our homes and at work.
It's really interesting to see the different perspective. I do worry about the future of Hangouts, it feels like it's just coasting now. Duo/Allo/Meet may be an okay replacement, if they migrate all of the data over and swap it in Gmail. I've played with their slack-competitor (Chat), and it's interesting. Still doesn't feel as good as slack, but it's been okay.
Maybe their inherent simplicity makes them the ultimate bike shed.
I could use Google Talk in Pidgin along will all my other IM accounts within the same client, and I also could use some plugins like OTR to encrypt my conversation if I needed to.
Now we're forced to use the Hangouts client which frankly isn't very good, and everyone else is also trying to lock everyone in their platform by putting interoperability on ice.
XMPP is still a good protocol, but no one seems to care :(
Note: the desktop app doesn't seem to be native (I think I got it from the Chrome store) however it's definitely a desktop app in the sense that you can run it without having a browser open.
It seems the links do open, but they open silently in one of my minimized browser Windows. And of course it opens in chrome even though my default browser is Safari. Wonderful quality.
I've had this experience with quite a few Google products - they just keep getting larger and cheesier with no discernible user benefit. Everything just keeps getting bigger and worse, even search.
Jabber days were good.
It means they really don't care, which shows in their product. My chats often get lost or delayed. I can't control my "contact" list, and there is no reason why I shouldn't be able to except they don't want to allow it. I see my friends who have died 3 years ago still on it, and I can't remove them unless I block them. If my contact is "Off the Record" they don't even show up in the list, which is infuriating.
I would love to know the reason why they let Gmail and Gchat go. My killer app for the Mac is iMessage, mainly because it integrates my text messages and Gchat into a single client. It's so convenient throughout the day for me.
However, the issue with Hangouts is that I don't have people there anymore. I talk to 1-2 friends on Hangouts who refuse to use Facebook or Whatsapp. That's all nice but ten years ago I had a significant portion of my friends in Google Talk. They still have Gmail accounts but they chat elsewhere.
I'm not a big fan of Hangouts, but if it stopped someone from pestering strangers online? Good on it.
Terrible web-app, even worse iOS app. So many times where messages were duplicated, or frozen, or stale. As in requiring a reset of the app to fix.
At least hangout was stable despite having equally poor UX.
Finding people is generally easy but for some reason, it will sometimes not find someone when you type the entire username but will find him/her before you finish typing the username out.
The best part is it works well on Android without GApps & seems to work much better than Skype in video calls on a slow connection.
0 - https://wire.com/en/download/
The internal codebase should be structured like the yellow-pages of a phonebook but instead it's structured like a flea market.
Now, consider that in light of Conway's Law...
Google clearly knows what they have made. The theory that nobody cares to fix this is false. They have good engineers.
Google was always tracking our location and scanning our emails. Few things happened simultaneously in 2014. Google tried to replace the messaging app with hangouts, blatantly stepping on privacy. Inadvertent signing ups for Google+ could occur. I switched to Cyanogenmod.
Navigating new privacy settings would took so long. Then Google maps started suggesting where I intend to go.
Not very creepy. It seems to me that Google intend to do the right thing, which is to declare publicly that our privacy is compromised, (e.g. Snowden) when we use Online centralized products. That is a good thing. I stopped trusting my ill-founded sense of privacy.
I lived in Canada, perhaps the timing was different in the states.
Not an application, but a whole folder filled with chat applications!
All my friend have moved onto slack.
But if it's at all true, it should become an HBS case study in how to destroy a community and how not to write software.
Or does voice actually have other features?
because they cannot own the client, and therefore, cannot completely collect the valuable part of the service - user data and activity data etc.