Google, just rip of iMessage
No, seriously, just do it. At this point, you just look like a bunch of bumbling idiots. You don’t have control of Android device upgrades, you don’t have control over your messaging platform, you pretend to have control over YouTube, but every time you exert it there is terrible backlash. Just… look at who is doing something better, and copy them.
In this case, we are talking about Allo, Googles new messaging app that no one will use. I downloaded it, talked to one person, tried out all the new features, and immediately went back to just texting. Because thats where everyone is. So what is Allo? Well, it is a messaging app, like WhatsApp, or Kik, or Facebook Messenger, or even Google Hangouts. When you download it, it ties itself to your phone number, sends you a verification SMS, scans your contacts for other users, then off you go.
And it is fine. You send and receive messages to other contacts who have it installed. The features and stickers it has are fine. The incognito mode is fine. They did decide to change their security model last minute though. If they don’t have it installed, it says you can SMS them, but not really. On your end it looks like a normal message inside the app (only without the read notifications, of course), but on their end, they don’t get an SMS from your number, they get a message from a short code number which says you are using Allo, and then your message. From outside the app, this is ugly, like really ugly.
This ugliness is what I want to talk about, because let’s face it, out of the messaging apps I listed before, or the 100 other ones around the world, no one is going to switch to Allo. No one should have to switch to Allo. It shouldn’t exist, and Google doesn’t see that. What they need to do is something they are already doing with Project Fi. Merge messaging and SMS into one app. Use Hangouts, kill Hangouts and make a new thing, it doesn’t matter. They need to copy iMessage. They need universal messaging.
From the ground up, this is how it should work. Someone with a phone that only supports SMS sends me a text, I get a notification, open The App, and respond. Because they don’t have The App installed, all we can do is SMS and MMS. The App on my end pushes these SMS messages to the cloud, and I can now access these messages, and respond to them, from anywhere I can sign into The App. This is what Google does right now with Hangouts if you are on Project Fi, but not any other carrier. Now, this person upgrades to a smartphone, installs The App, and ties their phone number and/or Google account to it. The App realizes we both now have an account, and by default, in the same thread, doesn’t use SMS, but uses data to send messages, pictures, stickers, play audio, change font or colors, or whatever else you want it to do. This should happen by default, over WiFi or the cell connection, and these messages are automatically synced to computers and the cloud, so you can access them on a native app for tablet, laptop, or desktop, or in a browser where you sign into your account. If some of your friends never download The App or are on a platform where The App doesn’t exist, they can still send you SMS messages, and they are in threads right next to threads where your other friends who have The App are. Even inside a thread, if data isn’t available, it should automatically fall back on SMS to send the message. If there is no cell signal, only wifi, it should send a message over data if both people have The App. It should even copy Facebook Messenger in so far as you don’t need a phone to send messages, only an account and a browser, if thats all you have.
Doing this right on Android doesn’t even require everyone to be on the latest version of Android. We could get 80% of users on this platform by updating Google Play Services, Hangouts, Messenger, and even the AOSP messenger app, which doesn’t have a name. Of course, it would still be voluntary, but it would be right in front of everyone, just like iMessage is on almost any iPhone.
Sorry for the wall of text, its not what I am usually going to write. But I just designed a better app than Google ever has (except Hangouts on Project Fi, and for some reason, they wont give that to everyone). If it were my full time job, if someone wanted to pay me to do this, I could have it working in a month. Someone pay me to do it. Maybe I’ll eventually get sick of Google not doing it right, and do it myself. But doing it from the inside would be better, because they have access to Android others don’t, and can tie it in deeper. They have the cloud services to host the back end flawlessly. Don’t make someone else do this for you, Google. Copy iMessage, put Pushbullet out of business. Please.