The guttural moan that escaped my face hole when I saw a new messaging app from Google in the Play Store, entirely separate from Allo and Duo and Hangouts and Google Voice and everything else Google has elsewhere, was enough to send my dog running from the room. Can we get 10 minutes where Google seems focused on delivering a single cohesive messaging experience to its users please? Do we really need another app for talking to people with Google accounts?
It turns out, the answer is yes. I fully expected to hate this experience and spend the next 500 words giving Google hell for wasting everyone's time, but I'm pretty sure this is actually something I'm going to love using with my friends.
It's called Supersonic, and it's not technically a Google app. In its current form, it'll never be a part of the core Google experience. The app itself is under the publishing name Area 120, because it's the creation of Google employees inside of an internal incubator program for building new and exciting apps. At its core, Supersonic is a walkie-talkie style voice chat app for your friends. You hold down the mic, speak, and the message is transcribed to text with a voice recording attached.
This is where things get kind of interesting. If you're actively chatting with a friend, those messages arrive in real-time and the voice autoplays as though you're on speakerphone with them. This means you can either send a quick message to be read later, or have a quick nearly real-time chat without a constant voice connection. It's less data being used, and if you're in a noisy place you can read instead of listen. You can also message in a group, which can be especially handy when you have chatty friends and are sick to death of Facebook Messenger.
This app will let me chat in a slightly more personal way with my closest friends
It also helps that the text translation is real time and remarkably accurate, given some of the Google text hilarity we've seen in the past. Part of the text transcription includes converting some of your words to emoji, which is either deeply frustrating or incredibly cool depending on your age. If you like this feature, and would like more emoji, the app allows you to submit phrase translations you'd like to see in the future.
While having another messaging app on my phone is the absolute last thing I wanted right now, I'm going to keep using Supersonic for a bit. Unlike Allo, I don't have to give a phone number. Supersonic isn't limited to a number of devices, and I don't have to import my whole Hangouts list if I don't want to. This app lets me chat in a slightly more personal way with my closest friends, and while that would be a nice thing to see built into one of my existing apps at some point this is actually kinda nice.