On Hangouts possibly removing the SMS sending feature
. The rumors have been ongoing for a while now, and usually where there's smoke there's a fire. I think this'll probably happen in some way or other. But I'm not sure it's going to happen through a simple Hangouts divorce. I think there's more going on here. Let's talk a bit about the ingredients.SMS
is a horribly obsolete technology. At $0.20 per SMS, that comes to $383,000 per gigabyte. In a world where you can often video-call anyone on the planet for cheap or free, that's bonkers. SMS exists in part because it's such a good deal for carriers, in part because it's still the most bulletproof cross-platform way to send text. For this reason, it made sense to me to merge SMS into Hangouts — treat it like the subset of more modern technologies that it is.
The problem with SMS in Hangouts has been the actual implementation. The UI isn't great, and "merged" conversations hasn't worked out in a seamless manner.
As many issues as Apple have had with "iMessage", it seems like they had the right idea. A rethink down this path, is probably what Google should consider in whatever future efforts they have.Hangouts
used to be the name for the video communication service that launched with Google Plus. When it launched, it was an amazing feat — suddenly making video calls was an everyday feature. It was easier to setup than Skype, and in many ways it worked better too.
However it seems that it just hasn't improved materially since then, except for making it less plugin dependant. While video hangouts are still excellent, the company I work for has ditched it entirely in favor of zoom.us
, a paid service, for only two reasons: it features a slightly better UI, and it doesn't drain your battery or get your fans spinning.
So video hangouts, arguably the biggest reason for the existance of the merged Hangouts app in the first place, is losing momentum.
What's left? The messaging service powered by Google Talk
is left. It always worked reasonably well, no beef here. But it still requires the recipient is using Hangouts. And like mentioned before, if you send a message hoping the recipient is on Hangouts, you can't be completely sure they received it or not — and there's no SMS fallback.
It feels to me like all of Googles communication services are in need of a reboot altogether. I don't know whether this will mean separate apps — the tech is probably cleaner that way — or another new merged effort. What it boils down to is that we need to be able to text, voice and video communicate to as many people as possible, with as little effort as possible. It's a tall order, but perhaps merging Hangouts, SMS and Google Talk is not the solution.
It really is true, 2016 is going to be an interesting year.