(2013-05-23) Google Integrating Messaging Under Hangouts Reducing Xmpp Federation

Google is unifying all their Messaging apps/services under Google Hangouts: GoogleTalk, Google Messenger, Google Voice, and the Google Plus Video Hangouts.

A long history of previous products and development of this new piece. Google says it's put a lot of thought into reconsidering presence (Presence Detection), and it actually works better in Hangouts than on other apps... The service’s Google Plus integration is one of the best features in the entire product... You can immediately start a video chat with up to 10 people with one tap, but voice-only (VoIP) conversation is a hassle since you’ll have to "mute" your video feed. Aside from audio calls, Hangouts has some other glaringly obvious missing features, like SMS. Google hasn't integrated SMS with Hangouts, either because Google doesn't want to annoy carriers or simply because it hasn't gotten around to it yet... Aside from the missing features we’ve come to expect from new messaging platforms, Hangouts is also lacking your friends, who are using a great variety of Group Messaging apps from WhatsApp to Kik.

There are both Android and IOS apps.

It is built on a proprietary protocol. XMPP is becoming less important. What no other major player did, and what Google is now abandoning, is XMPP server-to-server federation... Practically speaking, what Google's change means is that Google Hangouts users will still be able to have IM chats with users on XMPP services such as Jabber, the Free Software Foundation, and Openfire servers, and vice-versa. In addition, users of third-party IM clients, such as Pidgin, Trillian, and Microsoft's Outlook.com will also continue to be able to IM with Google Hangout users. What independent XMPP server users and IM client users won't be able to do is use Google Hangout's additional services such as VoIP, video-conferencing, or have multiple participants in an IM session (Group Messaging)... Another such set of standards, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE), has also been used to try to bring unity to online communications. Indeed, Cisco and IBM are working in an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard that will unify SIP and XMPP. Regardless of the technology, without broad industry adoption it will continue be difficult for users of one unified communication service to talk to users of other such services. With Google's move, that day is a little farther off.


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