Google unveiled its new enterprise-focused Hangouts apps yesterday, but that announcement leaves the big question of what will happen to the current consumer app (which many people use every day). At least for now, Google’s Head of Product for Allo and Duo says that the current consumer Hangouts is “not going anywhere.”
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Interestingly (and frustratingly), though, Fulay’s comments come just a few hours after he matter-of-factly presented Allo and Duo as “for consumers” and Hangouts as “for productivity/business users.”
So as has been the case with Google since the dawn of time, we still have no real idea of what its plan is for messaging. Which is it? Is Hangouts going to be solely for productivity/business users (functionally replaced by Allo, eventually, hopefully), or is consumer Hangouts going to be around for the long run?
If you want my personal prediction, I think we’ll see a lot of the features currently in Hangouts consumer eventually make their way to Allo, and Allo will functionally replace the current consumer Hangouts app. That would mean things like Google Voice integration and a full desktop client, which I realize is asking a lot considering the app’s ever-growing sticker and emoji collection.
For now, though, it looks like the consumer Hangouts app — which many rely on for these features and more — is going to stick around until Google closes that gap. It’s just confusing at the same time, because “not going anywhere” is a pretty bold way to word something if it’s going to be phased out in the relatively near future.