There is no shortage of options when it comes in the various ways to get in touch with me at virtually any hour of the day. Thanks a to a multitude of different services and social media accounts, getting in touch with Taylor Martin is easier than ever.
For at least 10 hours every day, I am constantly signed into no less than four Google accounts through different Talk clients. I also have tabs left open for Facebook, Google+ and I have Twitter for Mac always open on my MacBook Air. I also keep windows open for the endless list of Gmail and Google Apps accounts I have. Somewhere in the mix, I have a Skype account. Lest we forget Google Voice. Using the OS X app GrowlVoice, I can either send SMS via Voice from my MacBook or any of my phones or tablets. I also have Messages and iMessage on OS X and iOS, respectively. Lastly (at least I think), I have a multitude of wireless numbers, some of which receive SMS, calls or both.
Every day, I receive messages on Facebook, Twitter mentions and messages, SMS, emails, calls, instant messages and a bevy of other notifications of various sorts. I stay in perpetual connectivity all hours that I am awake … each and every day.
The only part that truly gets overwhelming, however, is how many different but similar services I deal with every day. More specifically, I deal with at least six different forms of Google communication: Gmail, Google Talk, Messenger, Google+, Hangouts and Google Voice.
Through the exact same Google account, I message using Messenger (for Google+), Google Talk and Google Voice every day. Each one requires a different method. Google Talk can be done within the browser – either in Google+ or Gmail – or from a client. Messenger can only be accessed by using the Google+ mobile app, though, when you access Google+ from the browser, it reverts to Google Talk, which is awfully confusing. The major differences between these two clients is that Messenger allows group messages and for people that are not your friends or in your circles to message you, depending on your settings. Google Talk does not offer either of these, though it allows one-on-one voice and video calling.
Google Voice is a totally different product from the other two. Instead of instant messaging, Google Voice is both a visual voicemail client and SMS service. It doubles as a call forwarding service, too. It's a multi-faceted platform, but make no mistake, it could easily be more integrated with other Google services. Currently, it feels like a totally different service.
I use Gmail almost religiously. But everyone knows what Gmail is, so I'll spare you the explanation.
Google+ is, of course, Google's relatively youthful social network, which I have found myself using more and more lately. Within Google+ is easily one of my favorite features of the network, Hangouts. These have all but completely replaced conference calls and even one-on-one calls for me. Rather than pick up the phone to call someone, I always suggest a Hangout first. It's more interactive and personal, though it does require being presentable.
The problem is one I've silently thought for quite some time (I'm sure anyone who uses all of Google's communication services feels about the same): why are all these services kept separate? Why are Google Talk, Hangouts, Google Voice, Gmail and Google+ not integrated? Sure, you can login once and access them all. But sending a message via Messenger is not the same as sending a message via Google Talk.
Everything is connected but also completely compartmentalized.
A leak earlier this week, however, suggests this problem may soon be solved. Droid-Life reported on Monday that Google+ user François Beaufort, the guy who earlier outed the Google Now-like notifications in a future Chrome OS update, uploaded another image to Google+ on Monday. The image showed one thing that was particularly interesting, an icon.
This is not just any icon, however. It is an icon that at least appears to tell a much larger story, one of a more unified Google. Over the last year, Google has worked wonders to create a unified experience across its wide range of products. But all those products became equal, so to speak, but remained separate. As Droid-Life's Kellex seems to believe, this icon suggests an all-in-one messaging platform. Considering the icon itself is four different-colored messaging bubbles, it's hard to imagine what else that icon could mean.
Seriously, just the thought of being able to use Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, Google Voice and, possibly, Gmail from a single app is incredible. Of course, this icon has only surfaced on Chrome OS and may take quite some time to trickle down to Android … if it ever does.
But I can definitively say this: I want all-in-one Google messaging on Android. Soon. I use almost every one of Google's communication platforms, but accessing them all through different applications and web portals is getting out of hand. It's high time for some consolidation, Google. It's high time for an all-in-one messaging service. In fact, it's long overdue.
The Wave project was canned, but that doesn't mean the idea died. Fingers crossed. After all, Google I/O is in May this year, so we could see a new side to messaging via Google in as soon as three months.
Do you, too, feel overwhelmed by all the different Google messaging platforms? Do you feel Google should consolidate and bring forward an all-in-one chat and communication platform? What do you make of the mysterious icon in the leak, folks?
Image via Droid-Life