Google Hangouts was introduced to take over a market that had been established by the company’s Google Talk app. While the chat app is doing great in the IM market, the level of competition in this industry has meant that the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have moved into the driving seat.
WhatsApp has been very successful at eliminating the use of SMS services. Even though Facebook Messenger has been a similarly stubborn rock in the eyes of telcos, the app has moved a step further to engulf SMS services in order to completely eliminate the latter. It is now possible to have SMS messages visible and accessible via the Facebook Messenger app, something that Google Hangouts has been offering for quite some time now.
However, it seems Hangouts users will have to settle for something else as the latest version has made some really drastic changes. If you have been using Google Hangouts to read and reply SMS messages, you may want to stay off v11. This is true because this version has removed the ability to merge SMS messages with Hangouts IM messages.
While this might be bad news for those using SMS via Hangouts, there is some good news for consumers of rich media. The Android version of the app has now added the ability to send and receive video messages. Of course, this is a great addition, but it comes at a bad timing – a time when every enthusiastic user is busy waiting for the official release of Google Allo and Duo apps that were made public at the Google I/O 2016 event. With the separation of SMS and IM messages within Hangouts, it means the latter will keep the usual color and icon while the former will change to a gray icon.
As mentioned, Google Allo and Duo were unveiled at this year’s Google I/O. However, the former has been drawing major highlights thanks to the fact that it has been touted as a serious competitor to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. At the time of this writing, both apps are available via the Play Store, but only for pre-registration purposes.
To sign up for Google Allo, you will still need a phone number, something that has made WhatsApp such as success, gaining more than a billion users as a result. With this in mind, Allo will let you add everyone to the platform as long as you have their contacts in your phonebook. Like the current offerings, you will come across emojis and stickers when dealing with Google Allo. There is also a feature known as Smart Reply which will let Allo users respond to messages quickly with no need for typing. The app will continuously learn your ways and come up with Smart Reply suggestions that match your style.
It gets even better for Google Allo as it will also depend on Google Assistant, the improved version of Google Now. It will be possible to do quite a number of things right from within the app, among them making dinner reservations, booking a cab or even making purchases, just to name but a few. Google Allo also comes with an Incognito Mode that brings to life end-to-end encrypted chats when enabled.
As for Google Duo, the app is meant for video messaging, with Google’s aim being to take down the likes of Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft-owned Skype.