Google has been widely criticized in tech blogs for two things in recent years: the “Google kills X” meme, and the company’s apparent obsession with messaging services. If Google doesn’t kill a service customers love like Google Reader, Inbox, or Play Music, it’s looking for a new way to add a messaging system to Google Maps or Google Photos, or create another one entirely. It’s partly a joke, but unfortunately very dangerous, because Google already does these things. Or at least it was. Something about the recent announcement of Google Meet and Duo integration looks different, and the company may be starting to see the big picture and start fixing these issues.
This isn’t quite an aluminum foil plot level, but something I’ve been arguing quietly with my colleagues at Android Police, because this he is Different. Google has announced that a long-rumored merger of its two video calling platforms is happening later this year, but one isn’t eating the other. Although Duo is losing its trademark as part of the change, Google hasn’t left it behind. Duo mobile app is taking over the newly unified Meet, although Meet maintains a presence on the web, and Google promises feature parity before the end. People are already making fun of the complexity of Google Meet and Duo’s integration apparently since it’s not just one service that totally eats the other, but it’s just like I just described it: Google Meet is everywhere except on mobile, where it will be accessible through the Duo app (and the reason who – which also clear).
I can’t think of another project merger/death at Google that can be safely summed up.
I can’t think of another project merger/death at Google that can be safely summed up. Part of that is definitely down to Google explaining things very succinctly, but the bulk of it is simply that he is Too brief.
Consider the “merging” of Google Chat (not this chat) and Hangouts. Hangouts itself was a victim of the inner schism that eventually led to the creation of Google Meet, and text messaging based on Google’s obsession with the doomed Allo eventually faded away. The features were slowly being phased out (SMS support was removed, Google Voice Integration left, Google Fi clients pushed to the Messages app), and finally, the Hangouts Chat project was picked from its decaying corpse as its replacement. By the time Google decided chat was the future, feature parity wasn’t a concern – Hangouts was so bare, there was nothing left to add as a new service. In fact, the comparison feature between Hangouts and Google Chat severely Prefer to chat. But the old Hangouts is still up and running in this distant year of 2022, as does Hangouts.
The death of Hangouts was loud, confusing, and long, while the changes to Duo and Meet were pretty obvious before things even started. It may be a more messy process than we expect, but it really doesn’t look like it.
The death of Hangouts was loud, confusing, and long, while the changes to Duo and Meet were pretty obvious before things even started.
Then there’s the case for Gmail and the end of Inbox. Google promised that Inbox packages would arrive in Gmail, a guarantee that has yet to be fulfilled nearly half a decade later. Introducing parity means doing actual work, Google is slow to do so, if at all, as those who have switched from Google Play Music to YouTube Music can tell you. I think the closest thing to a true “merger” in spirit is the Google Pay/Android Pay/Tez union, which started with a single brand across different payment segments and markets, but eventually spread to a unified app (and soon, the rebranding of Google Wallet). But even this merge, which I would argue was a success, was a much more chaotic process and seemed more organic than Duo/Meet one.
I’m sure there are other examples where Google has put things together more successfully and cleanerly, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Even the above examples are somewhat unusual; Google often ignores one thing or kills it outright to make room for something else. Customers cry and scream as the time passes between updates or another tombstone erected in the Google Graveyard, but the company doesn’t care. Even worse, there is no one there To take care as engineers and project managers transition into new roles. Broken Google games are left on the floor until someone decides to turn off URLs and apps.
That’s Google’s reputation, and today it looks different. Duo has not been abandoned; It got a new update from Material You-themed last year, and it’s still getting a steady shake of updates. Meet isn’t ignored either, as new small features are picked up every few weeks. Google certainly does not ignore one in favor of the other. And Google doesn’t just kill anyone to make room for them, either. Bit of Duo will continue to exist as Meet transitions into its own app, and Meet will still exist on other platforms and in brands. Google even offered some UI tweaks that we can expect. It didn’t look like Meet or Duo, but a union of the two – a ‘fusion’, if you will.
The expected unified user interface for Meet.
Based on everything we know now, we’re not compromising anything with this change. It’s exactly what customers ask for, it makes using the two services simpler by not drawing an arbitrary line and blurring somewhere due to the number of participants in the call, and each “side” earns something as part of the transaction.
Now, there are other reasons Google might push for this merger to happen the way it is. Perhaps the most important reason not to simply abandon Duo and move everything to Meet (as Google did with Hangouts and Google Chat) is the apps. Duo is a basic GMS package, meaning that it comes pre-installed on most Android phones. That is why it has more than five billion installs on the Play Store, and this is a feature that Google cannot give up simply by neglecting it. Although the focus here seems to be on maintaining Meet, Google is keeping Duo and dropping its Meet counterpart.
Of course, the focus on Google Meet may be about monetizing with Google Workspace subscriptions, but that’s neither here nor there. However, it touches on another important reason why Google included Duo with Google Meet, which is the fact that the company reorganized all of its messaging efforts in 2020 into a single team under the VP behind Google Workspace. Meet is part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), and Duo is not. The impetus since then has been to unite Google’s disparate efforts, both in terms of service integration and in terms of platform integration. Migrating Hangouts to Chat has been a relative mess — a 2020 interview with The Verge acknowledged equally — and that it all started at least partially before these regulatory changes.
This merger is the first fruit we’ve seen from Google’s new unified messaging team, and thanks to its relative simplicity, it appears to be a decision made more responsibly. There isn’t years of chaos and confusion about when and how things change, and I doubt we’ll be worried about which apps to use in a few years. Google has made it clear that Duo integrations will work as they did before in Meet, so video calls through the Dialer app should be about the same. Yes, the old Meet will eventually be discontinued, but that’s the only change we really have to match – Meet has already been enforced in the Gmail app and that’s it likely How most people are already used to it. Details of other platforms aren’t clear yet, but if you’re among the few people who’ve used Duo on the web, you may have to suffer the indignity of redirecting, and I doubt that Assistant-connected smart displays will look any different to clients at all after the change.
There is already a sense of continuity in these upcoming changes resident I don’t feel like when I think of things like YouTube Music
All this extra consideration and work on a simple transition reflects a deeper, more mature look on the part of Google. Nothing is killed or ignored and features are not left behind. There is already a sense of continuity in these upcoming changes resident I don’t feel like it when I think about things like YouTube Music. Nobody wipes the board in a misguided attempt to start over or abandon the old and spoiled for the sake of the new hotness. There is just a deliberate and deliberate attempt to unite two services so clearly related to video calling under one umbrella, fighting the image of Google as a company that just kills things and Google as a company obsessed with new messaging services.
With one small but interesting merger, Google is making a concerted effort to contradict Both One of the biggest criticisms of their customers. While I may read a lot into this, I think this may be the first sign that Google is really paying attention to the reputational damage that has occurred and is making an effort to do better, building things together as they grow forward, rather than lazily throwing them away as they teeter From idea to idea.
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