Google has announced on Friday that it will be splitting Hangouts into two distinct experiences; Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. The former will be focused on video conferencing whereas the latter will be focused on text-based conversations.
But this wouldn’t be the first time Google is splitting apps? The last time the company made a similar move, it made Allo and Duo distinct entities, which by most metrics was a spectacular failure.
Perhaps, Google’s motivations behind this split were business-related. Hangouts will no longer be the app for the average person. Hangouts Chat, for instance, is currently just open for G Suite customers who are enrolled in Google’s Early Adopter Program. Indeed, it’s meant to compete with Slack. Hangouts Chat allows enterprises to bring their teams together in a group setting for conversations pertaining to work. Users of Hangout Chat will be able to access everything from Google Drive files to photos and videos for in-conversation viewing. And this most likely how Google plans to exceed slack.
Another interesting perk that Google is introducing to make Hangouts Chat unique is bots. A number of third-party apps such as Asana, Prosperworks, and Box are already working to make their products live within the new Hangouts. Already, Google’s own @meet is already active in the tool. This is an intelligent bot that understands conversations between users and does such things as schedule meetings.
Hangouts Meet will dedicatedly handle video conferencing. It is already available today for select users.
Google will most likely make both Chat and Meet available to more of its G Suite customers over the next couple of weeks.
But why is Google slapping its audience with too many communication apps? We now have Google Messages, Allo, Duo, Meets and Chat just to keep in touch. Despite what everyone else is saying, the variations in interface and functionality are slight. Nonetheless, the company seems to be very confident in this move, arguing that the distinct apps will offer performance prowess. Although quite skeptically, I’ll watch to see how that goes.