Duo, Allo, Google Talk, Hangouts WTF?

Google’s Confusing Chat Client

For some explicable reason Google, of all companies, is a confusing hot mess when it comes to chat clients. They can produce solid online offerings, but messaging is an area of communication they consistently get wrong.

One notable exception is Hangouts. It was so adept that at one point Google was encouraging users to make it their default messaging client. For reasons not known, they are now encouraging users to switch to Allo and Duo, or as I like to call them collectively “Client Dumb and Client Dumber.”

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A very good chat client, but who knows how long it will be around.

The functionality that Hangouts posses has been separated into two. Allo is a messaging application and Duo is a mobile video chat application. The division of features makes no sense. When people chat, message, video chat and the like, they prefer to be in one application not two, or three. However, Google is not the only one out there messing up in chat arena.

Stalwarts of messaging AIM, and Yahoo have become more anemic than robust. Yahoo Messaging has become a pale thin shadow of its former self. The heavy hitters in the chat world are Facebook Messenger, nearly a requirement on a mobile, Skype, a well respected chat client nearly everyone uses, Viber, popular with the international set, What’s App, and there are other cult favorite players with followings.

Peculiar is an appropriate term when it comes to a major smart phone OS maker that is fickle about what direction it should steer the general public concerning messaging. It makes no sense. Then again, Google has a distinguish history of hit and/or miss products.

One notable success was the image editing and picture organizer Picasa. The popular program has been retired. There is no real reason why not to support it, and it was a robust image editor for bulk work, organization and syncing with Google Photos on line. It was just left to rot and now dead.

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Hello and Goodbye,  neither is what anyone really wants in chat.

Google also made an interesting choice in taking over the Nik Collection. This is a collection of Plug-Ins for Photoshop. After making them available for sale, they now offer the entire suite for FREE! It is nice move. But, you must download fast. No one knows how long this will last. Future updates are not stated.

The conundrum Google faces is one faced by tech companies that are established. It appears after a period of time companies begin to “anticipate” what consumers want without ever asking them what they need. The decision makers produce an idea and assume that it will work without thought to the real world.

Microsoft’s menu redo in Windows 8 was a perfect example of change for the sake of change without regard to end users. In a act of hubris more suited for a Greek Drama than a PC maker, they arbitrarily changed the startup menu. They never once bothered to see if people wanted this change or found it necessary. Microsoft was forced into making a retreat and brought back the popular, well organized, brilliant menu of old. The people spoke. Microsoft listened.

Google does go off and produce assorted programs here and there. There is much less of that now than before. In the past, Google looked like a big company willing to make room for their smart engineers to fiddle in the hopes that a winner would emerge from the many developments.

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It has been revamped, but it lacks critical features that Hangouts already has.

However, you cannot move, fidget, launch, relaunch and direct back and forth and back when you are dealing with end users that need productivity tools. It is great to experiment and do R and D. But, you have to let the core products alone until you have everything lined up ready to go with a polished product.

Google for all of its success has a winner in Hangouts. There is no real reason to do anything other than beef it up and add needed functionality. When you have too many products on the market doing more or less the same basic things, no one is really going to spend the time figuring what is appropriate. . Allo, Duo, what do they do? Who cares?

Simplicity is the key, and confounding choices are productivity killers. I do not like the idea of having to look at Google Talk, Google Hangouts, Google Allo, Google Duo and whatever else, when one product is all that is needed. No one has the time to pick chose and guess what is what when one elegant program is all anyone really wants or needs, not split up applications that have hit or miss feature sets.

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