The days of Google Talk are quickly coming to an end. As the company announced today, the messaging service that allowed Gmail users to talk to each other since it launched in 2005, will now be completely retired.
Even while Google pushed Hangouts as its consumer messaging service (before Allo, Duo, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet) over the last few years, it still allowed die-hard Gtalk users (and there are plenty of them) to stick to their preferred chat app. Over the next few days, these users will get an “invite” to move to Hangouts. After June 26, that switch will be mandatory.
Hangouts itself, of course, is going through its own transition right now. While it’ll be around for a while, Google is positioning it as its business-centric service and splitting it up into Chat and Meet (though the legacy Hangouts service will still be around for a while). For consumers, Allo and Duo are now the preferred messaging services, but there is still no web version of Allo, for example, so at this point, Google can only push users to Hangouts (unless we should see the June 26 date as a possible launch date for Allo — and maybe Duo — on the web).
While Google’s overall strategy is pretty clear (Allo/Duo for consumers, Hangouts Chat/Meet for the enterprise, Android Messages for carriers), the execution of this transition still leaves much to be desired. And given all of the current changes, who knows if Google will actually stick to this current strategy or launch another messaging app (Hallo?) soon.
And here is another update that’ll just add to the confusion: after fusing Hangouts and SMS for a while, the company is now focused on Android Messages as its primary service for accessing text messages. So if you are currently using what Google now calls the “classic Hangouts” app as your SMS client, Google will now ask you to switch to Android Messages (unless you use Google Voice with Hangouts for Google Voice SMS, or you are a Project Fi user).
On the positive side, Google is also killing a few last Google+ features in Gmail: Google+ Circles and the ability to email Google+ profiles. Those will be gone sometime after April 24).