Then they let it wither, came out with Hangouts, and it's been a downhill train wreck from there.
Google Talk had the potential of being one of the biggest messengers in the world...they own Gmail and Android (!!!!!). Are you kidding me? There's really no good reason for them NOT to be in a hugely dominant position here.
But instead they screwed it up & left a gaping hole in the marketplace.
Instead, they myopically saw Facebook as a threat and started one of the most user-hostile rampages I've been victim to. They hobbled existing products and over-complicated new products to force people onto a platform no one asked for. Facebook (and others) used this opportunity to grab communication away from Google.
It's all an interesting business case study of missing the forest for the trees.
IT culture in general and Google especially puts too much pressure on engineers to re-invent the wheel to get better visibility and promotions.
(Plenty do out of love for the product/customers/etc, but man it's soul crushing to not be recognized for it)
My understanding is that not everybody there knows where the corporate ladders are. If you don't (yet) know the terms of promotion at the GOOG, you'll be happy to knock out bugs and tweaks day in and day out. You're a Googler!
For example everyone says value "work life balance is balanced here and encouraged". But irrespective of whether they actually do it or not - if the two people output around the same ballpark but one is visible as more serious/responsible and seems more invested usually by virtue of more hours at work that becomes more "visible" than the "casual" 7-8 hr person with the same output.
My social group was dominated by BBM & Skype until iMessage & Facebook Messenger took over. I've always assumed Google's efforts around messaging were because they had a niche product inside Gmail that they wanted to make more consumer friendly, hence the constant attempts to rebrand it.
The reason I jumped out of Google ecosystem is, as you have mentioned, they forced me into closed ecosystems and I remained there for sometime but then the tools offered to me in the form of app, UI, and interfaces were beyond pathetic so I was out. So were my friends, family, relatives, and other acquaintances.
Orkut > Buzz > Wave > Chat > etc they did it one after another and they are still doing it. I mean you would think they would learn at some point.
I live in one of the wealthiest and advanced countries in the world. Ask a 12 year old girl what SMS is and she will not know. She will know WhatsApp.
And now they've decided to involve the carriers, using a technology that's not made to be cross platform but instead be dependent on phones. I can see RCS being a good solution for companies to send out rich boarding passes and similarly, but nobody around here uses SMS or MMS for person to person contact. Chat shouldn't be locked to or even routed through phones, and using a telephone number as an ID is impractical.
Disc: Googler, but this knowledge is my own as I grew up in India.
The fact that they failed to capitalize on it is what has allowed WhatsApp and others to become as big as they have. If Google hadn't messed it up, everyone would be using Google Talk, even in the 3rd world.
I often get disapproving looks when they realise I am not on Facebook :)
Clearly it would be a mistake to limit this to just phone users.
I agree with your point that in some countries people don't use Email and that's the face in China as well. But people use phone numbers just for register other services, as the online identity. We don't use SMS, and we prefer WeChat Audio over phone calls when it's available.
Having wifi but no cellular signal is such a rare usecase.
They should be trying to include everyone, telephone and non-telephone users alike.
For example, we recently launched UPI payments - that's like a banking address sort of thing (you can send from it and request too) and you usually get your UPI address like this "9876543210@upi". The number part is simply the 10 digit mobile number and that's it.
I read this piece  which centers on Jios impact on the telecom industry. It states that the rate of digitalization has been boosted, but doesn't really detail the societal impact. Do you recommend any particular article?
It would be possible to let people use both phone number and e-mail, that way I can log in on computers or my phone with a temporary SIM card while I'm traveling, and people in the developing world doesn't need to get an e-mail account.
Are you from a remote/small town or like tier 2-3 city? Freelancing maybe? As for the questions - it just got me curious.
Also flights are cheaper only nowadays. It used to be unreasonable.
Where are you located?
Mac/iOS Messages and/or SMS is my primary way of talking with friends and family. That seems pretty normal for my age range 25-45 and location (Seattle).
I think it has a lot do with mobile carrier pricing: here in Canada, mobile fees are enormously expensive, but SMS are almost always included for free. In Germany/Switzerland, many people use prepaid cards where SMS are (still) charged per message.
> Ik steur je wel even een appje
(I'll send you an message on WhatsApp)
is the norm in The Netherlands. My entire family, extended family, and everyone around them is all on WhatsApp. While I communicate with iMessage/SMS with friends in the US, that's not the case outside of the US. Everyone seems to have WhatsApp, most people don't use Google hangouts or other services alongside that, let alone SMS.
In English, you would never shorten the phrase "I'll send you a whatsapp" to "I'll send you an app" because the word "app" would be confused with a mobile app.
The Dutch still use the word "app" to mean a mobile app; "appje" means a whatsapp. So the diminuitive form allows them to disambiguate.
I'm also Dutch but I think 'app' is more like an alias for any chat service. WhatsApp is indeed huge though. Texting is basically dead in Europe afaict.
SMS is mainly used for bank alerts, confirmation codes, advertisement and scammers. I personally haven't used SMS for conversation in years.
Over to slack we go (which works fine).
I like imessage etc - little to no spam. I'll be curious how this carrier controlled approach will handle spammers.
Not everyone is on Gmail. There a untold millions of users who aren't interested in creating a Gmail account. Those users will never be reached with any "just use your Gmail account" strategy.
When I was working with ejabberd clusters servicing mobile clients it worked but I've had a lot less pain just using a custom protocol over websockets. My personal experience also seems to be mirrored throughout the industry as all the big players eventually move away from xmpp.
Riot Games is also using it for the messaging part of League of Legends (https://engineering.riotgames.com/news/chat-service-architec...)
XMPP is also used by military organisations such as NATO (https://www.isode.com/solutions/military-xmpp.html)
The sad truth about XMPP is that it just works, but it has a very bad publicity because there's just no marketing around it, and it's never used directly by users. So it suffers from that wrong image that is just completely outdated.
That sad truth is that people who actually use it end up dropping it. Its not some conspiracy. It just wasn't cutting it.
You also misunderstand what this api is referring to. These are APIs for your server to connect to Google's. This is not a direct http and xmpp connection to mobile devices. That's all abstracted away from this.
GTalk was awesome while it was federated.
Don't push your words on other people :(
The downhill train wreck is not isolated to their messaging services. Google, as a whole, is a fragmented mess that has manifested with Android OS. Not only is Android OS crippled by Google's ADD-fueled incompetence, it's crippled by their inability to remove carrier-influence from their devices. Now, Google wants to double down on their boneheaded decision by doing the same with messaging. Google Messaging needs to be carrier independant, have SMS fallback, integrate with all Google services, and be bundled with Google Services on Android. I have lost /ALL/ faith in Google.
I don't need stickers or Google Assistant. Those things are nice, but they're not what I need. What I need is the ability to contact anyone, anywhere without having to wonder whether it's going to work when I hit 'send'. Hi Bob, did you get my photo? Sorry, it didn't go through, Bob's carrier in Bangladesh has set limits on photo size and mine was too big. I tried to send Raj a message, but he recently got an iPhone and my RCS message sent as SMS and his carrier blocks international SMS messages.
WhatsApp & FB Messenger (and to a lesser extent iMessage) are successful because they reduce the thousands of carriers and hundreds of countries in the world to a single, seamless service. RCS is taking us back to the days where a single obstructionist carrier (remember lots of carriers are owned or controlled by governments) can screw things up for all of their users. WhatsApp et al showcased the ability of the Internet to make the world a smaller place.
I don't Google understands how big or complex the world really is.
I can still switch carriers and be able to communicate with my friends.
The only issue I have with SMS is that it costs money when I'm not in my home country.
I think that's true in general, but I don't mind Signal because it's a nonprofit and pushing the technology forward.
The real fix would be sensible roaming charges so you don't need to.
More recently (since 2015) I get free text and data (but not voice) in more than 100 countries around the world. Some countries include voice as well. In short it is coming, if you don't have it ask your carrier why. (odds are it is regulations so get after your representatives and tell them to stop it or you will vote for someone who will)
Travel is an issue yes, but I think it's worth it to have a truly decentralized system.
But I'm concerned that the intransigence of carriers, especially those that operate in non-competitive environments, will get in the way of rolling it out properly and effectively.
Rogers/Fido use Google's Jibe infrastructure, but Bell uses Samsung infrastructure.
The result is that if you're on Fido, you can't send text messages using RCS to your contacts on Bell because there's no interoperability between their infrastructure and Jibe. How insane is that?
And if you lose that phone number and phone, you need to get a new whatsapp number. I have to keep my SIM from New Zealand with me so that when I get a new phone I can activate Whatsapp again.
So basically it works, it was $1/year, it allowed to text, send images and send videos and one only needed to know someone's existing identifier (phone number) to connect to them.
Who would have thought that making something that works would eat messaging?!
Sadly, Facebook has since dropped feature phone support to support their flanking maneuver on Snapchat (Instagram on the other flank). Instead of keeping WhatsApp simple and admitting it was feature-complete, the grand plan seems to be "copy features from Snap, and drop feature phones that can't keep up".
Pretty sure you'll know prior to sending whether Bob is able to receive the message by just seeing the message is being sent by RCS.
We had to pull them kicking and screaming into the smart phone and data era. (Remember When AT&T sent a paper copy of every image you downloaded on your iPhone in a bill?)
Quite frankly the core problem with Google's strategy is involving then at all. Instead, go the manufacturers and campaign against supporting sms at all. It's insecure, slow, unreliable, monitored, among many other things. Push the manufacturers to an open Android messaging api that runs over TLS (or double ratchet) and bypasses the carriers completely, but the manufacturers can still rebrand.
The other issue is Apple. For as much as they claim "privacy is a human right", they have been jerks about making sure iMessage drags it's feet using secure technologies to communicate outside of their ecosystem. Apple wants to ride a white horse on encryption, but in reality they're having an opposite, negative, effect on the vast majority of the world's population.
Really? It's the only messaging format that works without a data connection and is an absolute godsend when I'm out camping, rural biking, or at large sporting events and the towers are absolutely swamped.
I'm in a situation at least once a month where the only reliable communication method is SMS.
For important messages I'll expect an explicit confirmation anyway, it's not enough that the message reaches the recipient's phone, they also have to read it!
My main problem with texts is lack of privacy which is why I'm slowly pivoting towards Signal instead.
My wife and I do this regularly because we won't understand something said and we'll see one of us didn't get a message from the group.
-- a guy who used SMS and then had 90% of friends being reachable via IRC and email, and SMS for the rest - before entering the world of smartphones.
I get a little display under the message saying 'delivered' in the standard android SMS app
I've got my lesson about SMS reliability few years ago: I've bought a bus ticket via SMS, it was never delivered, but I got charged for it and the operator claimed that it was sent, when disputed. Except I've never received it, and couldn't ride the bus without it.
that's a general problem with acknowledgements and is not specific to SMS
TCP is exactly the same
I really thought the pattern that you describe, which I've seen plenty of in the past, had just died out over time and tower upgrades.
SMS itself usually works fine, but MMS is particularly bad.
Citation? I haven't seen this to be the case in California - at least on Verizon.
T-Mobile mostly ran its 2G on 1900mhz, but had beefy midband spectrum holdings there and in AWS (and AWS-3) for most markets. Since you can run GSM down in like 200khz or so it's not a huge deal to have a small slice allocated to legacy voice fallback. You can't do that with 3G... you can thin it down but it's still going to need 3.8mhz or so. (T-Mobile has experience thinning HSPA down prior to the MetroPCS CDMA shutdown... which they had legacy CDMA running in guard bands)
Verizon and Sprint used to mostly be on CDMA-based technology. So their 3G 'EVDO' can't do calls.. it needs cdma2k layer to go back to, or full voLTE support. VZW has its shit together on voLTE, sprint will probably never launch volte at this rate.
But it's universal. I would never buy a phone that doesn't support sms. How do I contact people with flip phones? People with iPhones?
Also, Gchat is "monitored" as much as sms. Imessage claims it's not, but has that/can that be verified?
Until we live in a world where GSM and friends are dead and everything everywhere is VoLTE, SMS still has a place as a fallback.
I'm always a little surprised to come into HN comment threads about SMS and see so many people rallying for its replacement, yet we go into a thread about Slack and see many of the same arguments being made to defend IRC, etc.
You have to draw a line somewhere and accept some level of trust proportionate to your threat model. iMessage is good enough for most people who aren't Edward Snowden.
By comparison, no other majors attest that (eg, Google explicitly says it’s not end to end) and leaks have shown data accessed in clear text by government actors.
Signal work on Android just like iMessage - you set it as SMS app, and it uses Signal messages with people who have Signal (even on iPhone) and SMS otherwise.
We already have iMessage-style app on Android. It's just that pretty much nobody is using it.
For decades, ISPs/cell networks' biggest fear is becoming "dumb pipes". But they all seem to land there eventually.
And the other thing - asking Google to stick to a messaging API? Google, which has launched-and-killed more mutually incompatible messaging platforms than I've even managed to use? Not gonna happen. "Use Talk! Use Hangouts! Use Allo! Use TwoCansAndAString!"
Currently people are dependent on phone numbers for too many things. (Too many "2FA" uses SMS.)
When a communication system silently drops messages, this is unacceptable. But people are ok with it because they're accustomed to it being shit. The sender wonders why you never responded, and you are unaware they contacted you. Or the sender asks if you want to meet for lunch, and you get it 8 hours later. Group messages? I've compared phones on a table and we all have a different context to the conversation because each phone has different set of missing messages.
The messaging platforms are in silos and it sucks, everyone is annoyed about having 3-4 chat apps. But at least they work reliably, and that's the better alternative to garbage SMS.
Or they are OK with it because they have never had their SMS messages dropped, like me (that I know of).
At least here (Finland) SMS is used for a lot of stuff like bank transfer verification and postal package pickup notifications, having many dropped messages would seemingly make it unsuitable for those purposes.
Of course, MMS is a completely different story and I've seen issues left and right on various phones and carriers. I don't think anybody really even uses MMS group chats here.
It's the one messaging platform that's not in a silo, and that's just as important (maybe more so?) than 100% reliability.
No, no I don't - that has to be apocryphal.
I'd never heard of that, fascinating.
Do you have a source for this? Not disputing you, but would like to reference.
"I adopted a new strategy. Before starting any task, I asked myself whether it would help my case for promotion. If the answer was no, I didn’t do it."
The theory says that you can get people to switch if you deliver a product that is x10 better than the competition, but really, how can you possibly improve messaging as it is today? It's not like people are going to go "Wow, this app sends my messages so much better than <current established app>, I'll go ahead and switch and tell everyone I know".
Reality is that all these products are result of autonomy given to teams - it's not really pushed top-down, so new 'innovative' ideas are spearheaded and pushed up for strategy's adoption.
Maybe chat just doesn't make them any money so they don't really give a shit and all of these things are pet projects that get shut down on a whim?
The key to Google is that their real Users are advertisers. That's it. The "users" you're talking about are the product they're selling to their real Users(Advertisers).
PS. Please don't call that chrome window a desktop app.
I also think the switch Android<->iOS is solvable, probably just an edge case and they don't think it's profitable to do.
If you're going to criticize Google for this, at least be correct when doing it.
Apparently Google is trying to do something in the communication space involving voice and text. It doesnt seem to be working and it’s ended up confusing a lot of people.
So non-google XMPP users could speak to GTalk users, but not Hangouts users.
It's like saying "Gmail is compatible with hypothetical Gmail where you can only send emails to other Gmail users, it's just a different iteration." Maybe true, but suddenly a very different service.
How do they expect people to trust this statement:
"We don’t believe in taking the approach that Apple does. We are fundamentally an open ecosystem. We believe in working with partners. We believe in working with our OEMs to be able to deliver a great experience,” ?
Social network: Orkut was their one and only working social network. Google - it is not great, so we raze it to the ground and make a better product... and they were trying to do so for last 12 years.
Messenger: Talk was their one and only working messenger. Google - it is not great, so we raze it to the ground and make a better product... and they were trying to do so for last 12 years.
Photo blog: Picasa was their one and only working photo blog. Google - it is not great, so we raze it to the ground and make a better product... and they were trying to do so for last 12 years.
New site: Reader was their one and only working news portal. Google - it is not great, so we raze it to the ground and make a better product... and they were trying to do so for last 12 years.
Casual blog: Blogger was their one and only working casual blogging site. Google - it is not great, so we raze it to the ground and make a better product... and they were trying to do so for last 12 years.
Google Photos is such a faceless product to the extend you get surprised time after time again to the fact of its existence when you see it popping up under different names after firmware updates.
Picasa was a photoblog, something with essence, community, and vaguely stated purpose. Photos, on the other hand... well, just a file dumpster with UI.
Google is primarily a marketing company. They need to make money off of their products. In that context, all the products you reference, which I agree were pretty great, were not useful to Google. So they got killed, or allowed to languish, in the hope that they would at least drive new users into the Google ecosystem.
I do have to disagree with part of your assessment of Google Photos. You are 100% accurate ... it's a file dumpster with a UI that I routinely forget about. And that's perfect. I do not need to have a relationship with my software. But it quietly functions in the background, and periodically rewards me with an animation or AI-generated image? Hey, that's pretty cool. I'll share that with my family and friends. And that's what Google wants to see.
look at flash was massive but it was insecure and had to be replaced.
from my understanding talk had to be change due to mobile network usage and battery drain.
sometime it isn't black and white what kills a app and most of these products are free so it isn't like google owes you anything.
i think they could communicate this better with people be more open on why a product is put to rest or replaced
I'm not sure if they're right, but I am pretty confident there are tradeoffs here.
I bet the person who wrote that is naive enough to believe it due to lack of historical knowledge. Probably 95% of the current Google employees were hired after XMPP support was dead.
They are signals that mean "closed" and "invasive"
Okay, a little snarky, but it makes a point. Chat programs have a lot of proprietary features that won't translate through XMPP.
Most chat networks are still built around xmpp - they’re just not federated and likely using private extensions.
Because they're using an open, industry-created standard. It certainly isn't in their interests to do so (unless Apple also adopts it, which... we'll see)
Gee, I wonder where I saw this pattern before...nope, it's not like they're going to exterminate their Official Blessed Client once they tire of it, 18 months from now.
If I use this to communicate with a business (or person!), the carrier can read every word. No thanks.
Hell. You can't even download the standards documents without giving GSMA a name and address and consenting to receive promotional material...
> But, like SMS, Chat won’t be end-to-end encrypted, and it will follow the same legal intercept standards. In other words: it won’t be as secure as iMessage or Signal.
I heard some time ago from the colleague who got an internship at Google that they have to release a new project almost every 3 months and then fight against other internal teams to do a public release. This way they — mostly interns — can justify a full-time contract. At the same time, because these projects also need a project manager, some high profile engineers help the interns in order to get bonuses and also to justify a change of responsibilities to, maybe, become full time engineering managers.
Whatever the story behind the chat re-brands is, many will agree with me that this is becoming irritating.
No no no please. We should be doing everything we can to relegate carriers to “dumb” data providers. They don’t have he skills or expertise to provide anything beyond this, which they’ve demonstrated time and again.
I have no clue if Google maps have the same problems, because what I would have to give up to use it doesn't make it worth it, no matter how much better it may hypothetically be, and it wouldn't be worth it, even if Apple Maps were as bad as the Google maps users all claim it to be.
Also, not bing. DDG, of course.
Google gave up pushing Hangouts for consumers but I don't think it's going anywhere, as it's a big part of G-suite for corporate customers. Though with Slack and Discord I'm sure it's usage isn't as strong as it once was.
I take it you never used google talk via xmpp.
Eventually they shut it down though, but in an uncharacteristic move they gave quite a bit of lead time.
So smooth that I lost access to hundreds of contacts that used a different, non-Google XMPP server.
Hated hangouts, finally switched to Telegram and will never look back.
The combination of killing gchat and reader really struck me as "Wow, it feels this company has no idea what they are doing strategically."
I don't have an iphone nor want one, but they got it right when it comes to building upon their core software. Same can be said to Windows/Microsoft. Yes, they are not perfect, yes sometimes behind everyone else when it comes to "the latest and greatest", but they have USERS! They know their audience and slowly improve their apps to keep them happy enough to keep using it.
I can't believe a company this big with so many resources doesn't have an attention spam greater than 6 months.
Google is eroding trust in its product offering & regularly adding an adoption handicap to their whole product portfolio.
P&G, Unilever et al know this. I'd expect the software companies to learn from the challenges of the "supermarket"-era brands.
- Add "Google" before the name any product announcement, and it's sure to be front page news.
- Shutdown any product with "Google" before the name, and it's sure to be front page news.
You can especially see this effect when a random Googler publishes a random project, but it's under github.com/google/ because it was done at work. Even if it's not "a Google product", it'll shoot up to the top of HN.
It relies on the carriers to keep it functional and we all know this won’t end well... given the robocall and SMS spam situation do you really think RCS will be any different? But at least robocalls and SMS spam cant carry anything besides plain text, while RCS could contain HTML and a lot more “active” stuff which no doubt will exploit some bugs in the phone’s implementation to install malware.
And as has been said in other threads, Google Talk was the only sane strategy for Google and it was lost.
I'm not even being facetious when I say that they should include an estimated date of when they expect to cease supporting said product (2 years seems to be about right)
They're great at hiring engineers. They're great at hiring MBAs from top business schools. But their hiring process does not leave room for unusual rouge entrepreneurial people.
I mentioned this to a person whose company was bought by FB and later became an investor. He agreed and he said, he was interviewed by google but they didn't hire him. So he started his company and a few years later sold it to FB. I know this in anecdotal. But I think Google just lacks the entrepreneurial blood. Someone to hustle a product with a cohesive strategy and vision and finding the way to build it up and turn it into a massive success.
I'd go so far as to say, Google would benefit from a two-year ban on any new product releases. Engineers should spend that time focused on adding value to their current products.
Fast forward 20 years, and here we are again, FB Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, Allo, Signal, Telegram, SMS, Slack, etc.
At least this appears to be a "standard" that everyone can use again.
Which I still use all the time, because most of the chat clients I have to develop against have introduced asinine restrictions that force their official clients to run in single-instance mode, so your other alternative is spinning up entire VMs in order to have two accounts signed in to talk back and forth on the same machine.
With SMS I know that I can send a text to anyone. With RCS, I don't know what would be supported by each carrier.
Unless their phone is turned off, or in a different room, or they’re in a different country, or they’re outside cell coverage and have wifi only.
I’m not arguing googles shit is good, but sms is a fucking woeful alternative.
I send most “messages” from my laptop, and about 1/3 are “international”.
Xmpp, iMessage, etc are just data over an ip network - no inherit tie to a mobile phone and its network.
So if I'm out of cell coverage, or my phone is flat, or whatever - I can get iMessage/XMPP/whatever messages on my laptop or iPad or whatever other device I have.
That is how having a laptop but not my phone makes a real difference.
I remember around 2012 it was also great time, I could chat with my Skype, Facebook and Gtalk contacts from within Outlook.com website thanks to XMPP, the best part was it acted like proxy so i could reach the people even though these services were blocked in China, then Goggle and Facebook decided to kill it and I stopped using messaging in outlook.com
Whatsapp, Telegram, FB, iMessages are NOT standards. They're closed systems controlled by a single company.
XMPP is a standard from the days of ICQ, AIM, MSN, etc. Unfortunately it failed.
SMS is a standard for mobile phone text communications. It's too limited now.
RCS is the evolution of SMS.
I don't think RCS is a redundant standard, it's a necessary evolution of SMS. It's a standard for a decentralized system. I know Americans hate their carriers to the point they'd rather have everyone's data in a single SV company, but the solution is to fix your carriers. Not to give all your data to a company (Facebook) that had been proved to be less than trustable about it.
RCS is still focussed on phones only, so it’s a non starter IMO. But it’s driven by the same companies that charge the equivalent of $1000+/mb for sms delivery, so it’s unsurprising that customer needs are not really their first priority.
That's what the term "Defacto Standard" is for.