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.