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31-Aug-2017 03:23

Text messaging on mobile is mired in inter-carrier warfare. On two of those fronts, Google has been making progress.

And today, in a bit of a surprise, Google has signaled that it finally decided Hangouts is supposed to be: a business communication tool to complement its consumer apps.

Google Hangouts has been having an identity crisis ever since Google tried to relaunch it as an end-all, be-all replacement for Gchat.

It’s been ping-ponging between Google Plus, business video chat, Google Voice, Project Fi, SMS, and lord knows what else.

If you know anything about Google’s messaging strategy in the last few years, you know that it’s been a bit of a mess.

Allo, the consumer app, launched without the cross-platform features users expect.

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The core features of Hangouts Chat play on Google’s strengths.In tech, Good Enough combined with You’re Already Paying For It has a way of ending arguments that a feature comparison can’t.Google tells me that when it becomes generally available (right now it’s only available to businesses in the Early Adopter Program), some of the business features will be limited to G Suite users.For regular old Gmail users, when it becomes available Hangouts Chat will follow a “fremium” model — which means that anybody will be able to download and try it out, but we don’t know for sure what features will cost money.

Speaking of meetings, Hangouts Chat will integrate with a big upgrade to the Hangouts video chat service, now dubbed “Hangouts Meet.” (Yes, the naming is confusing and dumb.) Google says that the new video chat will be much less likely to spike your processor or grind your computer to a halt.For holdouts who were hoping Google would just turn Hangouts into its straight-on Whats App / Facebook Messenger competitor, this direction might be a small disappointment.