Google+ is dead – again! The consumer version of Google+ may have been discontinued in April 2019, but Google kept the service rolling as a business-focused social network and changed its name to “Google Currents.” You have to pay for GSuite to use it, and only members of your organization can see the posts, so it’s for private company announcements and discussions.
In the latest Google Workspace blog post, Google says that Currents will be “phasing out” from 2023. This is no surprise given that Google+ was a completely failed consumer product. Why Google thought Currents’ success was pushing the dead service into business is unclear. (Hey, Google Stadia, does this sound familiar?) Google never really did anything with Currents after rebranding it as a business product. After years of rotting away as a dead consumer product, Currents has gone on to rot for a few more years with new business branding. What is surprisingly, Google offers Google Chat as a replacement.
Google Chat is one of the newest messaging apps from Google. Chat was originally intended to be a Slack competitor, and was later adopted as a replacement for the Google Hangouts consumer chat app. Google Chat is now also apparently a replacement for Google+, as Google will “bring leftover content and communities to the new Spaces experience”.
Google posted a strange blog post to explain the changes. “Spaces” is the name for Google Chat group chats, but the blog post mentions “Spaces” (capital S) without actually mentioning Google Chat, as if “Spaces” were a standalone Google product. When Google announced Google Chat Spaces last year, it said:
With the introduction of Spaces, we are evolving the Rooms experience in Google Chat into a dedicated place for organizing people, topics, and projects in Google Workspace. Over the summer, we will evolve Rooms into Spaces and launch a streamlined and flexible user interface that helps teams and individuals stay on top of everything that matters.
Google Chat Spaces will also feature prominently in the new Gmail redesign, right below the “Chat” list.
A Spaces room has two modes: one that works as a group chat and another that turns each message into the start of a threaded message, a sort of forum. It could possibly contain Google+ data one day. Before the G+ data is transferred to Google Chat, Google says some changes are on the way:
We’re delivering new capabilities in Spaces to help you communicate and collaborate more effectively. These include support for larger communities and leadership communications, investments in advanced search, content moderation tools, and more. We also invest in search and discoverability, app development platform capabilities, and enterprise-grade security and compliance, including data protection, data loss prevention (DLP), and vault support.
So to sum up, Google needs a Slack competitor, and that’s Google Chat. Google needs a place to hold Hangouts users — that’s Google Chat, too. Google also needs a place for Google Currents users to migrate, and that’s now Google Chat. Google Chat needs a lot more development and resources to handle all these diverse usage scenarios.
List image by 123pendejos