Right now, there is chat integrated in half a dozen different Google products and they all work in half a dozen slightly different ways. There’s G+, Google Talk for Gmail, Hangout, Voice, Messenger and Chat for Google Drive. But very soon, Google is finally going to unify those chat services under a single service called “Babble”.
Babble continues Google’s trend towards organization by conversation. You can share photos in chat windows just like you would in G+ Messenger, start a Hangout with anyone in your contact list, and the conversations are threaded across all the existing services. Moving forward, the individual services will all be pushed onto the single platform, and you’ll be able to use the same chat window across all of Google’s products with the same features available everywhere. It’s not so much releasing a new product as it is pulling together all of the existing products under a single branding.
Most of Google’s chat services over the years have been cobbled together from sealed off manipulations of an open chat platform called XMPP. The service is flexible, scalable, and has served Google well for quite a while. Google’s recent decision to block non-native XMPP requests is the first step towards building their own closed communications platform. In order to use Google’s chat service, especially the new Babble service, you’ll need to be using it the way Google wants you to use it. That’s not going to sit well with many users at first, but the quality and performance of the service will be more than enough to make most users happy.
No official timeframe for the release of this rebranding has been made clear, but we’ve been told to expect a presentation on the unification of these products during Google IO this year. Since this service comes with a new app across Android and Chrome OS, it’s not totally clear how it will be unveiled officially.