Google I/O is coming up in a couple of months, and I think now’s a fair time to discuss messaging in the Android ecosystem.
Google still has a ton of messaging apps. The company has fragmented its band of followers, again and again with multiple apps, and it has gotten to the point where it’s downright annoying. As fans of Google, we still, at the end of the day, just want to talk to people.
It’s obvious that the majority of people don’t really care about the processor in their phones, the size of their battery, or the latest software updates. We still task our devices with basic, and otherwise incredibly simple chores—texting, for example.
Texting via messenger applications is so easy, and yet so difficult. Of course, unless you have an iPhone and everyone else you know also has an iPhone (basically the US). Everyone knows that iMessage, Apple’s proprietary communication system, is available on virtually any Apple device. It also seamlessly works on practically every type of connection, be it LTE, WiFi, 3G, etc. The point is, iMessage just works. It’s fully operational. And it was made to be a service where you merely add contacts and, well, contact them.
With iMessage, you don’t have to worry about what connection your messages are sending over, and you don’t have to worry whether your friend has an iPhone or not. iMessage just works, and has, since its days as iChat back in 2002.
Google, on the other hand, has messed around with instant messaging since what seems like forever (2006 if you wanted to know), taking on Yahoo! Instant Messenger, AOL Instant Message, and even iMessage. And while they were off to an optimistic start (browser-based simplicity), the search giant didn’t continue down that road. It would seem Google would not commit to a reliable, fully-functional, all-encompassing, smart, consistent, long-lasting messaging application. (Phew) And in 2017, much to our annoyance, nothing has changed—rather, nothing has improved.
We just want to talk—without having to place effort in order to get to talk.
And we don’t want to require Android Messages, Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Skype, Kik, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Oovoo, Line, Signal, or [insert chat app here] in order to do it. We want something like iMessage. Of course, it’s Apple’s default (and only) chat platform, and it isn’t perfect either. Some may argue that it barely has any customizable options, or that it’s boring to look at, duo-chromatic, lacking in creativity, unintelligent, and frankly, just meh. And yet, it’s awesome. It’s fully operational and isn’t going anywhere. And it won’t be losing good features.
iMessage delivers the experience the majority of people want to have: a simple, fast, and overall seamless way to communicate. You can easily share pictures, send startling fireworks (ok, that’s extra 😂), and see when your recipient is replying or has read your message, all while never thinking about which app you need to use. It just works.
But for us Android users who know that this type of seamless service exists, we know it’s possible. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve read or heard about this topic, but I’ll just say it again for Google: We want a single messaging application that just works. Whether it be over WiFi, LTE, RCS, satellite, carrier pigeon, or Pony Express, we seriously want Google to fix this mess.
We want something simple. We want something seamless.
I get it. Allo is fast and simple, but it lacks native SMS support and a desktop client (and it has a horrible name). I like Hangouts, but it’s sluggish and will soon not even offer SMS support, either. Which brings us to Android Messages, and yet, compared to Allo, it offers the most boring experience and no smart features. However, it seems to be what Google is putting the most effort into recently. There are several more apps I use to communicate with Android users in Kenya, Australia, England, and different parts of the world. A nice prerequisite to purchasing an Android device would be an instant, native way to communicate with other humans. One that asks you to sign up for when setting up your device for the first time—like iMessage.
It’s time Google steps out of its comfort zone and listens to their fan’s voices. Literally, nobody I’ve seen praises the mess Google has created by fragmenting and abandoning its messaging app users. More messaging apps are not cool anymore, Google. If the future is communication via apps, then there needs to be fewer of them. I didn’t use eight different corded phones to dial numbers in 1997, and I have no interest doing the same with chat apps in 2017.
Dear Google, run our messages through your servers and encrypt them end-to-end. Use our phone numbers (and optionally our Google Accounts) to chat. Lastly, stop making more messaging apps. Seriously.
If Android Messages is the hero we have been waiting all these years for, the time for it to rise to the occasion and unify this dilemma is now.