Google Chat Aims to Rival WhatsApp with New Social Features
- Oliver Michael
- 04 Jul 2023
There’s a sense of confusion around Google’s strategy for Google Chat, its professional communication tool. Originally known as Hangouts Chat and designed for Google Workspaces users, the platform was intended to compete with business communication tools like Slack. However, Google now seems to be shifting its focus to personal communication, bringing Google Chat into a space dominated by WhatsApp and Telegram. And to get a taste of this new direction, users will need to follow a slight detour.
In a blog post, Google unveiled seven new social features aimed at making Google Chat more appealing for personal use. These enhancements include sharing entertaining videos with family and brainstorming holiday locations with friends in groups. The tech giant is clearly setting its sights on the personal communication market with these new features, which echo functionalities found in WhatsApp and Telegram.
The first of these new features is 'Smart Compose', which utilises AI to provide contextual suggestions, reducing spelling and grammar errors. This feature will appear when a user is typing a message that could be improved, providing an option to accept the suggestion. This feature will gradually be rolled out in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Also, users will now have the ability to edit or delete sent messages by clicking on the message to reveal several options, including a pencil icon for editing or deleting the message. This feature is already being implemented for all users.
Another familiar feature from WhatsApp and Telegram that's being introduced is the ability to quote a message in a group chat. This feature allows users to refer back to a particular message when replying to it, which is already available in Google Chat. Additionally, read verification in group chats is being introduced. This feature displays the avatars of group members who have read your message directly below it. This feature has been available in individual chats for three years, and will be rolled out to group chats on both mobile and web versions this month.
To sum up, Google Chat's new direction and feature set seem to signal a desire to compete with popular personal communication platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. However, the path to achieving parity with these established platforms may be long and winding. Only time will tell if Google Chat can successfully transition from a business-focused tool to a personal communication hub.