Google will announce that it’s shutting down the shortlived Google Allo chat app “soon,” according to a reliable source familiar with the plan, although the timeline of the announcement may have been delayed by the backlash stemming from our report about ‘Hangouts classic’ being shuttered.
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This development comes almost 8 months after Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Chrome, Comms and Photos at Google, said that the company was “pausing investment” in Google Allo. Google lost its Allo lead, Amit Fulay, to Facebook in January, and the last major update to Allo, version 26, came not long after.
Lately, some of the app’s remaining users have complained of bugs and broken functionality: there have been messages not being delivered, features like hearting posts randomly disappearing for some, and the latest stable version has been unable to perform Google Drive restores of chats for several weeks.
Meanwhile, essentially the entire Allo team was moved to work on Android Messages and spent the last several months porting over much of Allo’s features and functionality — all leading up to the recent beginnings of evidence that the rollout of Google’s RCS ‘Chat’ initiative is gaining traction.
“The strategy behind Allo was ‘let’s build a really great consumer messaging product really from the ground up,’” Sabharwal said in an interview with The Verge earlier this year. As the publication noted, its fewer than 50 million users made Sabharwal’s frank admission that Allo had “not achieved the level of traction that we’d hoped for” entirely unsurprising.
Update 12/5: Google has confirmed that Google Allo is shutting down in March 2019.
Hangouts classic, too
The retirement of Google Allo may seem obvious given that Google moved it to the backburner months ago — not to mention that it’s proven unable to take on its competitors in any meaningful way. The forthcoming turn down of ‘Hangouts classic’ may be a bit more surprising to some of its millions of dedicated users, however.
At one point, Google seemed to be signaling that Allo would be a suitable replacement for Hangouts’ consumer chat functionality. Now, Google has confirmed that ‘Hangouts classic’ is getting the axe, as well as announced plans to migrate all users to the currently enterprise-focused Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Those apps will be opened up to consumers at some point in 2019, Google says.
Messages w/ RCS and Duo
What’s still unclear is exactly how the two Hangouts spin-offs will be positioned alongside Android Messages and Duo, two apps that have much of the same functionality as Hangouts as far as consumers are concerned and seem to be much more the center of focus for that audience. Google continues to invest in both heavily — Duo, unlike Allo, has maintained active development this year and has apparently seen wide-reaching success.
Although Google has stopped short of explicitly confirming this, it seems most likely that Android Messages — powered by RCS ‘Chat’ — will be the true spiritual successor to both Allo and the chat functionality of Hangouts. And Google Duo will likely serve the video calling use cases for consumers. ‘Hangouts classic’ as it’s now called, will be “upgraded” to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, although it appears those apps will still primarily be aimed at enterprise use cases.