Google’s video chat merger begins: Now there are two “Google Meet” apps

Google’s video chat merger begins: Now there are two “Google Meet” apps

Enlarge / One day Google’s message line will look like this (assuming Google can stop releasing competing products).

Rum Amadeo

Google is officially kicking off the merger of its two video chat apps, Google Meet and Google Duo. Google announced the merger in June, with the plan to keep the Google Meet brand while merging the best of both code bases into the Google Duo app. According to Google’s PR email (no links, sorry), people will start seeing Duo’s app branding and website switching to Google Meet this week. Google’s various rebrands are rolling out, so they’ll come at different times for different people, but Google says the full rebrand should end for everyone in September.

So Google Duo is being rebranded as Google Meet, and the existing Google Meet app will stick around for a while. That means there is now two applications called “Google Meet”. Google has a help article detailing this extremely confusing situation, calling the two Meet apps “Google Meet (Original) – The Updated Meet App” and “Google Meet – The Updated Duo App”. “Google Meet (Original)” app will one day stop working; it just stays while Google rebuilds the meeting functionality on top of Google Duo. Did everyone follow that?

The Meet and Duo video services were created in reaction to much more stable communication competition from Google. Google Meet was technically created in 2017 as a group business video chat app called “Google Hangouts Meet,” but it really became a major project after Zoom’s growth exploded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Google Meet was still locked behind a paywall during the early months of the work-from-home era, and while it eventually became as easy to use as Zoom, it was only after Zoom became a household name.

both of google

The two Google “Meet” applications. The one on the left is Duo. The one on the right is Meet.

Rum Amadeo

Google Duo came out in 2016 alongside the Google Allo “companion app” as a reaction to the growth of WhatsApp. Google and Facebook entered a $22 billion bidding war over WhatsApp two years earlier. Google lost and spent the next two years making a WhatsApp clone called Google Allo. Instead of integrating video chat into the app, Google has split the video functionality into a separate app called Google Duo. WhatsApp didn’t have video chat at the time, so you could use Google Duo video chat with Facebook’s WhatsApp either Allo from Google, if you wanted.

Allo and Duo originally focused on India, leading Duo to create a one-on-one video chat system that used low bandwidth and worked well on unstable connections. That efficient video chat system will be the foundation of the new combined app, with Google building Meet’s meeting link functionality into Duo and renaming it. The install base is probably a factor here as well. As the default Android app, Google Duo has over 5 billion downloads on the Play Store, while Meet only has 100 million. Google’s way makes the transition smoother for those 5 billion installs, while all 100 million will have to be changed manually. Google says it will hide the original old Google Meet app from app store searches in September. Eventually, you’ll need to implement a popup for existing users of the old Google Meet app telling them to upgrade.

This movement is due to the fact that Google “unified” its messaging teams in 2020, with a single person, the vice president and general manager of Google Workspace, Javier Soltero, taking the reins of “all the collective communication products of Google”. That should mean Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Messages, Google Duo, and Google Voice, and Google even released the Android phone app for good measure. However, it was announced last month that Soltero is leaving Google, so that’s just two years in the work of unifying Messages. No one knows who, if anyone, will take over as “courier chief” again. However, Bachelor’s plan is still happening: In addition to this Meet and Duo merger, Hangouts will finally be shut down in a few months. This new, more cohesive lineup will leave one Google video app and three Google chat apps.

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