Google badly wants to have an iMessage competitor, so it’s planning to bring one of its many messaging apps to the desktop. No, not the one that’s already on the desktop.
Google Hangouts use to be the messaging app that you could use for everything. You could message other Hangouts (formerly Google Talk) users, and you could fall back on SMS for everything else. Don’t worry, Google fixed that by eliminating SMS support for Hangouts. They also built a separate messaging app specifically for SMS, called Messages, which was later rebranded to Android Messages. They also built Allo which was closer to a WhatsApp-style messenger that links users with their phone number, but adds rich features—including Google Assistant!—on top.
Can you guess which one they’re bringing to the desktop? Because we couldn’t either.
According to a teardown over at developer forum XDA, the answer is Android Messages. The SMS-and-pretty-much-nothing-else app that comes standard on Android phones recently pushed an update with unused code suggesting that you’ll soon be able to scan a QR code and link a desktop version of the messenger with your phone so you can text from your computer. That’s pretty cool, if you use Messages for SMS.
If the goal is to compete with Apple’s iMessages, however, we’re still a long ways off. Google has three distinct messaging platforms—wait four! I forgot about Google Voice—all with unique capabilities. It’s great that Google wants to expand its apps, but if it hopes to have a real iMessage competitor in the future, it might have to focus on just one or two platforms.