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Unified messaging is a joke, and it probably always will be

Not all that long ago, I was a 'Linux-or-bust' kind of user. I had everything I needed, and one of those things was a unified messaging client. For me, that app was Pidgin. I loved Pidgin because it worked, and I never had any problems with it. The app wasn't exactly feature-packed, but I could log in to everything and never had to worry about missing a message from my friends across all the platforms they used. For me, this is what unified messaging meant — a way to unify the different messaging apps so I could have all of my communication in one place.

A few months later, I picked up my HTC G1. What I didn't know at the time was this move into mobile computing would slowly crush my unified messaging dream. Now I don't even question it, I just accept it — unified messaging is never going to happen.

It's a mess, and for the most part there's no way to unify these experiences.

There are currently five different messaging apps running on my phone, laptop, and desktop. I use Hangouts with Google Voice baked in for most of my phone calls and texts. Work relies on Slack for group communication and a sort of centralized thought organizer. Many of my friends use Discord because it's basically Slack and TeamSpeak mashed together for gamers. Facebook Messenger lives everywhere for my friends and family who don't use Hangouts. Skype is on somewhere in the background so I don't have to roll my eyes and install the app when someone who is confused by new things asks me to video chat. It's a mess, and for the most part there's no way to unify these experiences without sacrificing features I rely on or general functionality.

I largely blame smartphones for the current state of messaging. Adding a messenger became a way to create ecosystem lock in. Building a great app became the differentiation point, the thing that could be used to pull users from one platform to another when deciding who you wanted to communicate with most.

When my sister asked me why she should message me on Hangouts instead of Facebook Messenger, I showed her how simple video chatting was from the phone. When my friends abandoned our group Hangout for Slack and then Discord, it was due to the available features and the overall quality of the app on every machine we used. Unification stopped being about bringing multiple apps together, and instead became bringing multiple platforms together. Outside of the people who will use whatever is pre-installed or whatever their friends are using, the messaging service that works the best on every screen wins.

Hangouts

For Google, unification meant bringing together all of their messaging systems into a single app. That never really happened with Hangouts, having only gotten as far as to unify Google Talk and Google Voice, and in the process Google ditched support for federated XMPP messaging. This meant apps like Pidgin will occasionally just not get messages with no real explanation. Video Hangout messaging is still not a part of Hangouts, and at this point probably never will be.

The best we can say about Google's attempt at unification is that it's better than Apple's attempt, which was to unify SMS and iChat in a way that is deeply broken if you're trying to talk with someone who isn't using an Apple product. Also, best of luck moving from iMessage to anything else without something breaking in the process. Palm tried their hardest to make everything happen in one place with webOS, merging texts, Facebook, Google Chat, AIM, and more into one conversation in one synergistic app — but even if they had survived they would have run up against the same walls that thwart unified messaging efforts today.

All of this is to say that unification as I first imagined it, where one app let me communicate with all of my friends and family across all of the apps they use, is never going to happen. Even in a stripped-down sense, where all you have is the messaging capabilities, isn't likely to be possible anytime soon. It's not a problem that enough people deal with anymore, because most folks have settled in to one walled garden or another and are happy to install another app if it becomes necessary. Much in the same way that it took a major shift like the commoditization of smartphones to create our current messaging situation, unification won't happen again until our current computing experience changes again in some radical way.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

137 Comments
  • Yeah, I long for an app on my phone that just works for all the major chat programs. I hate having to have so many running and logged in at once. I resisted for awhile. I installed Trillian on my phone so I could still use AIM and Yahoo and ICQ and the like, but...none of the new services even have the capability to be unified. Makes sense since I doubt any of them want people using multiple chat programs. They'd prefer they exclusively use theirs.
  • I disagree with Russell I'm that there is no way to do it. Anyone remember webOS? That system has unified messaging built in. I could see one thread from my contacts with Facebook, Google talk (now hangouts), aim, yahoo, text message, Skype and more. All in one thread. It can be done. Posted via the Android Central App
  • He specifically mentioned WebOS (rip) in his writeup. But he thinks it too would have problems given the multitude of messaging options out there today. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sure there are many options but palm was doing it with the ones most people use. It can be done. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It could be done then, yes, but Palm would have hit the same problem eventually: walled gardens. AIM, Yahoo, etc. all had open (or at least reverse-engineer) protocols. It is not possible to build a third-party app for Hangouts or FB Messenger or WhatsApp because they use proprietary protocols, forming walled gardens. For any app to be able to unify messaging, it would have to rely on Google, Facebook, et al to provide APIs for integration.
  • It isn't that it is impossible to do. Anything can be done. The problem arises when they sue you out of existence. Thanks so much for the DCMA. Second only to the Patriot act as worst. Legislation. Evar Posted via the Android Central App
  • It can be done IF the providers are willing to let it be. They're not anymore. That was a different time when those providers were more open.
  • Did you read the entire article?
  • Ate you referring to him mentioning webOS in passing? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sure there's a way. NON PROPRIETARY (OPEN) PROTOCOLS. But, we all know that ain't gonna happen.
  • Doesn't the Blackberry Priv offer the Hub messaging system that has all social, chats, and messaging in one unified app? Looks pretty neat, just waiting for some devs to make it compatible with other Android devices.
  • Someone's done it already, you can find the apks on xda dev. You have to install blackberry services, had it running for a few days on my 6p but it kept force closing so i uninstalled.
  • I use Google Messenger for text/MMS. I use Skype (used to be Microsoft Lync) for chats and video on both my computer and my phone. Two apps. Thats it. Simple.
  • I just don't get it, why not use Google hangouts for both? I use Google hangouts across all devices.
  • He mentioned Lync so I'm guessing it's Skype for Business. And if your work is using Skype for Business... No hangouts. Hangouts doesn't really cut it in business environments unfortunately especially when compared with Skype for Business or Jabber for example.
  • You should tell that to Google. They interview job candidates with Hangouts video chats.
  • Google kind of has to use their own tool, don't they?
    Either way, Hangouts works great but in an environment that has already deployed Microsoft Office and/or Jabber those tools work better than Hangouts is. For example Skype for Business and Jabber are typically integrated with Office phones so you're able to initiate calls on your physical phone from the software. Also you're able to share your desktop instantly among other enterprise features.
    Don't get me wrong, I like and use Hangouts but if you were to give me an option between Hangouts and Skype for Business at work, I'd pick Skype for business any day.
    What I was trying to say is that in enterprise environments Hangouts doesn't even begin to hold a candle to Skype for Business or Jabber or any other messaging platform is used.
  • I have always read that hangouts doesn't do group messaging. At least not on a Nexus 6P. Otherwise I would use it over messenger so I could have one app for most of my messaging.
  • You can group message. It used to not have that feature but it does now. I've done it using my Google Voice number via Hangouts with no issues
  • You can't search your own SMS messages in Hangouts, but you can in Messenger. Seems like the different Google teams are working in silos and not talking to each other. Posted via Android Central App
  • True, not within the Hangouts app but if you do an "in:chats" search using Inbox or Gmail you can search your SMS messages
  • Google started recommending Messenger for text a few weeks ago. I tried to switch from hangouts to messenger but lost a lot of texts so I'm back with Hangouts. Personally, i just want Google to go all in on one platform.
  • I know this is not the place but i remember back in the days of WP7.1 when Facebook and Messenger and all these other apps lived within the People Hub, and all messages would get centralized to the built in messaging app, if you so wanted to. It was amazing, and then all support started leaving. I completely see your point and agree with it Russell. Keep up the good work! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Facebook knows how to f*** s*** up.
  • +1000 you Sir are so on target. Hate them, they are evil & kill your performance (don't trust them either). Is it me or do they make the semi-anonymous way more difficult than it should be? Posted from Lake Chillisquaque
  • yes they do!
  • Holy crap, that was amazing. One of my favorite features of 7.1. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's cute! I remember when WebOS was doing it before that. AIM was integrated in - that's how long ago it was! ;) WebOS was doing something right. I missed my unified app, even if the threads weren't always together!
  • Lack of unification is the reason I've disliked every phone I've moved to after WebOS3.
  • Easily took me 3 Android phones to "get over" not having webOS.......still miss it.
  • I guess you never tried BlackBerry 10 and its Hub, where everything was unified, texts, messaging apps, Facebook, mail... sigh... I miss it so much. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Me too:( I have the priv and the hub is just not the same. Posted via the Android Central App
  • BB10 Hub is the shtiz, but it's a BlackBerry and you won't understand. Hub on the Priv is cool, too, and perhaps ironically has even more potential than Hub on BB10.
  • Why is the hub not the same? I am seriously considering the priv so please advise if I can live with it?
  • I agree. I'm holding on to my Z10 until hell freezes over. So much easier to do mundane things that becomes complicated because of apps and walled gardens..
  • "The best we can say about Google's attempt at unification is that it's better than Apple's attempt, which was to unify SMS and iChat in a way that is deeply broken if you're trying to talk with someone who isn't using an Apple product." Not really, if you're talking about iChat for the Mac, which is now called Messages, I can send Hangouts, SMS, and iMessage all in the app, and it works well, not perfect but well. Since Messages for iOS does all of that but hangouts, I'd say they did a pretty good job, slightly better than google or at least on par.
  • So it works really well between iChat on Mac and iMessage iOS, both of which are Apple Products and the authors point?
  • "...if you're trying to talk with someone who isn't using an Apple product." I have no problem talking with people without using an apple product. Yes, I do have apple products to do that, but he's talking about them getting the message and not me having the hardware.
  • Correction: Sorry, I have no problem communicating to people who don't own an apple product...
  • The service iMessage itself should not be criticized for that. The experience is absolutely excellent and I have no need to use any other messaging app anymore, except when chatting with people who do not own an iPhone. The way it works together on both Mac and iPhone is great tho. We all know Apple likes to keep things exclusive for their own devices, but that does not make the experience any less.
  • Actually it does when the entire point of the article and his statement was about unifying messaging across all platforms.
  • People only comprehend what they want to. Look at how many missed the point of the whole article.
  • Yea I get that, but as I said, we all already know Apple likes to keep things exclusive for their own platforms. They are not interested in unifying any of their services with other platforms (except for iTunes and Apple Music) as it is not a part of their philosophy. Why would you criticize them for something they are not investing in anyway? He is talking about 'Apple's attempt...', while they never really attempted to unify messaging with other platforms.
  • Sure it does. Unless every person you communicate with is an Apple user, you have to use yet another app.
  • Everyone I know who uses iMessage on iOS loves it because it smartly sends iChat to iPhone users, and SMS to everyone not using a iPhone. Posted from my Nexus 6.
  • And handily colour codes the messages so they can look down on the people not using imessage. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What do they say, Google it? Seriously, look into it. This is not why they are color coded.
  • Oh boy. You didn't get it.
  • iMessage is great, so long as you're communicating with other Apple users.  The problem comes in with SMS, and part of it is just perception.  People expect SMS to work just like iMessage, because they're using iMessage, but the SMS network/protocol is not that robust.  Messages get dropped or delayed, and people don't understand why.  Even then, it only unifies Apple's chat platform and SMS.  It does nothing to unify Skype or Facebook or anything else.  Not Apple's fault, but still faces the same issue. The other major issue with iMessage (and, admittedly, I think it's gotten better) is that Apple "takes control" of your mobile number, when it comes to SMS messages.  If you ever get your number ported to a phone other than an iPhone, Apple will still be intercepting all SMS messages sent to you, and they will just "vanish".  Used to, you couldn't even un-enroll from iMessage unless you were on an iPhone.  Apple did finally make a web page to handle this, but I've heard mixed reviews about how smoothly it works.
  • Whatsapp may sadly become universal, but it has no unified backup solution, iCloud on iPhone and Google Drive on Android. Really absurd, but with 1 billion, it might devour the rest.
  • What's new - • Over 100 new emoji
    • Google Drive Backup: Back up your chats and media to Google Drive, so if you lose your phone or switch or upgrade to a new Android phone, you can easily restore your chats and media. Set up backups in Settings > Chats and Calls > Chat backup WhatsApp Posted via the Android Central App
  • You just proved his point. It's icloud on one and g drive on another. Two vastly different cloud services. Ideally whatsapp iOS should also support gdrive, but with icloud's ease of use for iOS developers i doubt that will happen.
  • Moto blur was pretty good for its time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Anyone remember "Chatter"? ;-)
  • Honestly I just want Apple to release iMessage for Android and we'll be done with it. As much as it saddens me to say, Hangouts just isn't happening. I have to force people to use it.
  • As an avid Android user since the Samsung Captivate... Hangouts sucks. Its clunky, slow, a resource hog and it isn't very intuitive. iMessage uses a simple messaging app and does everything on the backend. Google tried to offload that into the app and made it a mess. Google needs to take Messenger and then do everything on the backend so that Android users have a simple and easy app to use that just works.
  • If Hangouts isn't intuitive for you I hope you don't have a driver's license. My Mom can barely turn on the TV and she has no problem using Hangouts. I did have to show her to long press to delete a thread, but that's it (and admittedly that bit is far from intuitive).
  • This. I've been saying this for the last few months. While I have and use an iPhone (and Apple Watch), my daily driver is my 6P and I just can't seem to pull myself away from Android and go iOS full time. I really feel like Apple could corner the messaging market if they'd just open up iMessage to Android users (if that's even feasible...I really have no idea). They've done it with Apple Music...why not iMessage? Another pipe dream of mine is that they eventually allow the Apple Watch to be used with Android phones. The Apple Watch has been my favorite wearable out of all the ones I've tried and if I could just use it with my 6P, I'd be completely satisfied. I can dream, right?
  • Well said. There are so many options and they all have different features that somebody wants. I agree with you. Could you imagine one messaging app that did it all and was on everyone's phone!! Maybe Apple, Google, and Microsoft could combine their efforts into one standardized app for all ecosystems. Maybe a small charge of 2$ a year for licensing. One stop shop to text, wifi voice call or video chat!!! Who am I kidding, we cannot even get standardized charging cables for phones or computers much less one swiss army messaging app!!! Hey, that is a great name for a messaging app!!
  • Yeah, such is the smart phone market.
  • "Video Hangout messaging is still not a part of Hangouts" I assume this means sending videos over hangouts, not video chat?
  • Most likely... And it's SO frustrating.
  • You can do it... on iOS. And it's been available for about 2 years IIRC.
  • One of the many reasons I loved webOS. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Palm got so much right with webOS. Sigh...
  • Like Itunes Sync. The real killer feature.
  • That was amazing! Try that now......
  • Even then it was quite difficult to maintain. Apple intentionally broke it with every iTunes update. Palm just kept fixing it for a while, until it got ridiculous and they gave up.
  • This is a big reason I've told family and friends to stay old school and just call me if you wanna talk. I'm not gonna jump through a bunch of hoops otherwise to communicate with you through whatever-social-media-form-app of your choosing. It's really cut things down to what-really-matters.
  • BlackBerry...... the HUB, best unified messaging (email, SMS, social apps...) it was one thing that BlackBerry did right, had high hopes for the implementation on the Android powered PRIV.
  • The Hub is the best communication method I've ever experienced. I still miss it from the BlackBerry. It's the only thing good about them. I hope it's brought to Android. Google Nexus 6P
  • Here's a widget trying to be a "hub"
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • They still have time to do it right by the time marshmallow comes out Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have to say Apple is clever as imessage is far from perfect the fact that it just works is appealing to mass users getting your texts on your ipad and mac without any real extra setup is nice and it uses your phone number so you dont need to create another account, they use the same credntials for facetime. Now while all of this is simple and just works the problem like russell pointed out is it only works apple to apple, which was sort of their idea since it would compell purchasers towards their mass group of iphone toting friends. I have a lot of non tech savvy family and trying to get them all to use hangouts or skype is painful so yes at times i miss imessage when i can send large files over wifi right to their phone without them having to open a dropbox link or be in the same room. but it certainly is not unified or a proper solution but one of the better mobile solutions ive seen even if it is by forcing it down the users throat. I love hangouts and enjoyed using hangouts for sms before messenger but it still was a proper solution. I look forward to the day we do away with sms and all messaging is data based so i can use wifi and not be limited to my cellular connection strength to share videos with my non tech savy family.
  • Hangouts is akin to iMessage for the Google Ecosystem, and you DO need an Apple ID for iStuff, so you do need to create an extra account. Apple's big win was to integrate it so nicely with their phones and not give any real explanation on how it worked that many iUsers still think to this day that SMS and iMessage are the same thing...and they're not. And that's why things get broken when trying to message someone outside that bubble, blaming the non-iMessage users when the fault is somewhere 'frutier'.
  • your right as far as needing an account but to use the iphone itself and download any apps they make you sign up for an account so most people do.
  • So does Google... except for using your phone. But if you want to download apps from their store front, you do need an account. I'm not sure if you can actually use an iPhone without an Apple ID... can't remember (like just calls and texts and pre-installed stuff, just no iMessage or iTunes).
  • I don't understand this "things get broken when trying to message someone outside that bubble" sentiment. As someone who used an iPhone for the last 8 months and is back on Android now, I never had a single issue with sending messages to non iPhone uses (which the majority of my friends are). iMessage is just such an elegant solution that just worked. Have an iPad or Mac? You can text/answer calls off of them (I didn't know this until I had 2 iPhones in my possession during a swap after I had cracked it). It was actually very nice and switching back to Android wasn't an issue.
  • You're one of the lucky few. Most people have issues when porting from iPhones to whateverPhones as iMessage still keeps their number on a deadlock. And there's the non-iMessage bug that some people experience (sometimes users just can't reach random non-iMessage users unless they fully deactivate iMessage or manually forcing a certain contact to SMS-only mode).
    I do agree that the seamlessness (is that a word?) of the iMessage system is key to why it's so successful, but it's not without its flaws. But then again, neither is Hangouts. Or any other messaging system I've tried, for that matter. If you have a Voice number of are on Project FI, you can do the same things with Hangouts on most any device, even web browsers. Problem is less than a quarter of my contacts actually use Hangouts for messaging.
  • "Fruitier", obviously you mean something other than an actual piece of fruit. Ms. BBQ has been on the iPhone since the iPhone 4. I have always been a BlackBerry guy but also owned three Androids in the past. Never once have I, nor her, experienced this "broken" iMessage thing. Well, perhaps one exception: whenever I am a part of a group iMessage chat all I see are a bunch of phone numbers instead of names. The horror.
  • This is one of the reasons I still use SMS. For all of its imperfections, it's still "unified" in the sense that everyone has a cell phone number. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But not everyone has a cell phone (I know, shocking right!?). That's why IM services like now-defunct MSN Messenger became so popular once upon a time and why so many services are moving towards having a desktop client or at least a web-based access point. Even 'phone-based' services like Whatsapp are doing it, because we want our messages everywhere and in sync.
  • Maybe it's just because I (and thus more of my friends and family) are older, and because few of my friends are techies, but I use SMS almost exclusively. I've never completely understood the need for anything else, as it's fairly universal.
  • My only problem with SMS is that most people still also have a landline and that means I sometimes send a text message to a contact's landline number by mistake.
  • The BlackBerry 10 implementation of the Hub was quite good. Had sms, phone calls, all emails, BBM, WhatsApp and im not sure what other 3rd parties were included. One could also check each of the above mentioned separately as well as choose which one appears in the main hub. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But that still required you to have each app, didn't you? If you didn't install Whatsapp, the Hub wouldn't display that. There are widgets that could let you mimic that on Android, but Russell's point is that you still need all those apps separately. There's no one app that can talk to all services and keep them all in the same place.
  • Aha, but then won't everything be bland and boring? We have choices for a reason. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You'd still have choices. But all your messaging services under a single, synchronized roof of your choice without the extra app clutter. Think of those services that used to integrate MSN Messenger, AOL, ICQ, GTalk, etc. into a single app (Beejive, IM+, Trillian, etc.); each had their own approach and specific features that differentiated them.
  • You're way off if you're blaming smartphones for the death of unified messaging solutions. Since the birth of Instant Messaging, most services have been struggling to break compatibility with multi service clients. Posted via TCP/IP
  • Russel goes from Pidgin--which is just as featureless today as it was a decade ago--to the G1 to this article. How long exactly was the G1 released? Right.
  • I feel somewhere in there the veritable and once-upon-a-time king of Ecosystem lockdown and market grabber, BB Messenger, deserved an honorable mention. And then came along every other messaging service and BB never caught up with them or the OS competitors that were doing stuff better.
  • I use textra and very rarely Skype. Works well having them separate and I like it that way.
  • They all want exclusive control of whatever service it might be. Unification is a pipe dream. They want you using their services, not all la cart and by no means one that might actually work better. Good thing SMS was established before all the smart phones, which is why almost any messaging app can use it. Same for Email, imagine having 10 different email apps for each email service that your friends, coworkers, or family use? Or not being able to accept calls from a verizon customer because you use t-moble? Yeah! It really is that stupid that you have to have a separate app for service that all uses basically the same technology!
  • This article is so biased. Give credit where it's due. iMessage works flawlessly and is 100 percent better than anything Android has to offer. I switch back and forth from my note 5 to 6s plus and have no issues. Posted via the Android Central App
  • iMessage is only for Apple products, yeah?
  • It seems at least in my case that the majority of people use iMessage Posted via the Android Central App
  • In your little corner of the earth. The rest of us 1 billion users, are pretty happy on whatsapp. You know 1 billion of us.
  • A Billion Downloads is not a Billion users. But I get your point. I downloaded whatsapp three times over the past year, but still don't use it much. Not an Apple fan, but back to reality at least 90% of the Apple users use iMessage on a regular basis. It is no small number. And isn't because it is better, it is because it is how Apple users think. If Apple makes and says they should use it, they do it.
  • My aunt can't figure out why she can't text me... She keeps using all the wrong iPhone apps. So she messages another family member with iPhone and forwards that to me. I'm not sure why... But I run into this imessage vs text problem a lot with iPhone users and they always blame my phone :p To prove me wrong they show me their phone and then I show I them how to text. "Hrmph...I don't get it"... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thats not entirely true. It works pretty well but most of my non-techy friends have iPhones. Group messaging with an iPhone is a joke and you have to deal with that terrible autocorrect...
  • imessages is just another walled garden the author is talking about. just like Hangouts, just like whatsapp, etc. It doesn't solve any problems. For those in the apple ecosystem it merges SMS and ichat nicely. Even if they ported it over to android, it would just be another messaging app in a sea of messaging apps.
  • I must be a little strange then. I use the Android Messaging app for test messages, FB Messenger for friends and Hangouts with my brothers when we want to play some PlayStation games online since the PS3 doesn't support multiple headsets at once. Thats all, no Skype, or anything else. Reason, I font want to use multiple apps for all kinds of things so I don't.
  • 99% of my contacts use SMS. The other 1% use Telegram or Facebook messenger. I'm not a fan of SMS, because of its obvious limitations. Low quality photo sharing and video and you can't send a variety of files. My wife loves to send videos from her iPhone via MMS to me. A blurry crap pile I can't even watch. She thinks it looks sharp as a tack, but that's only on her side. iPhone to iPhone, it works great.
  • Yea, Russell seems to think that Apple's iMessage is worse compared to Hangouts, but I disagree. Yea, Hangouts can work on almost anything, and that's great, but it's the quality of said 'working' that I take issue with. On iMessage you can send pictures, audio messages, videos - anything you want and it does it well. Hangouts can barely display a picture sent to my Nexus 6P, often showing the "three dots of death" for several minutes before I actually see the picture. Videos are a no. Voice messages are a no. The app does platforms well, but seemingly at the expense of features.
  • Wrong.
  • Cool take. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What happened to those rumors that Google was dumping Hangouts for yet another attempt at messaging? They're even advertising that you can use Messenger for SMS rather than Hangouts, seemingly advertising it's dismantling and inevitable replacment.
  • It took me forever to persuade just a few of my friends to switch to WhatsApp instead of SMS. Now that they have, I'm basically locked into it too, because there's no way I'll persuade them to change again. Even if something better is available. The only other option I'd have is Facebook messenger, since they all use that as well. But screw Facebook. Like Russell says, it's all just an ecosystem grab for the major players, and any independent, cross platform app that emerges gets bought... As happened by Whatapp. Sooner or later, SMS is going to have to be retired, not for many years I'm sure, but some day. When that happens, governments are going to want another universal standard to take its place. Maybe that will just be email. Or maybe there will need to be a platform agnostic messaging system, agreed upon by regulatory organisations, that can be the one IM system to rule them all. It's a dream. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But Whatsapp is part of Facebook. The CEO buyed the app. Make the test, add a friend on Whatsapp and if this person put his/her phone number on FB, you will see him/her on your fb page as "people you may know " So when you said screw fb messenger well is kinda funny
  • I'm aware of that. But 1) as I said, I'm locked in now. 2) using WhatsApp is a lot different to using Facebook messenger and the baggage associated with it. I'd switch to Telegram in a heartbeat, but i can't. None of my friends use it, and if I asked them to change they wouldn't. So I stand by my screw Facebook comment. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What about DISA? I use it for SMS/MMS,facebook messenger and WhatsApp.
  • imessages combines sms and ichat nicely on apple systems, I get that, but it's hardly a solution to the authors initial point. It's just another walled garden. Hangouts could have been that but Google never developed it out and now with no SMS integration or video support, it's kinda behind on most aspects. I hardly use it now except for my immediate family. its cool so that if i get a hangout i knows its family and reply asap. The only app I use for texting now is Verizon Messages. It basically sends all sms and mms via cell or wifi from my phone which is great. Plus I can install the client on my laptop and tablets and get all my messages. closest thing to imessage outside of apple. i uninstaled fb messenger and saw my battery life increase by a few hours per charge. Also use Signal and Skype for work and with my patients and thats it. I consider the great unifier sms. If I don't have the app, send it via sms text. 4 apps, I don't think I can go less than that.
  • I just don't care. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I still don't know why google did not buy whatsapp. Could have solved a lot of their issues Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well this is fairly depressing
  • The key to the problem is in the first sentence: "Not all that long ago, I was a 'Linux-or-bust' kind of user." Linux has multitudes of distros because people who didn't like something about the one they were using created a new one. The same thing has happened with messaging. Someone wants to send stickers and the current apps don't do it? Invent a new one with a new standard. Meanwhile, the scope of messaging as a whole has bloated beyond all recognition. It didn't have to be this way. Blame the fickleness of human nature more than anything.
  • Surprised BB10 wasn't mentioned. The HUB on a bb10 device does what you want. All messaging from Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other app on android, are all in one unified messaging hub and you can read and reply from right in that hub. No need to open other apps, it's all integrated in the bb10 messages client. If I didn't have to go back to Verizon, I would most certainly still be using my passport. Best device I've ever owned. My 6p is great too, but I badly miss the unified messaging in bb10. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Rich Communication Services
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Communication_Services
  • I cant imagine using anything but whatsapp. I've spent the last 3 years talking all my iphone friends and family to get it. I've finally got everyone who I text w/ on a regular basis to use it. #satisfiedFace
  • I have Facebook messenger, Hangouts and Google messenger on my device. FB Messenger is for friends and family, Hangouts is for me and my girlfriend and Google messenger is for everyone else. I don't do Skype or any other messenger service. I'm kinda tempted to take Facebook Messenger off my device and just get notifications threw Chrome. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Personally i don't want my messages unified, i don't want my e-mail unified either. I have separate ones for separate things and i want to keep them separate. It bothers me enough having both my gmail accounts in the same app.
  • Most people will download the multiple apps to accommodate their friends preferred method of communication. It's annoying but most will do so. But don't you think that if we remove the friction of needing to download the apps prior to using them then it would indirectly accomplish unified messaging? I'm interested in the work that is being done in "streaming" apps and slowly moving towards not needing to have the app installed on the device. I think this could go a long way in accomplishing indirect universal messaging
  • That's so true. I use: Hangouts, BBM, Skype, WhatsApp, BBM, Slack, and SMS.
  • I miss my pre and veer. A pox on HP and Fiorina. Posted via the Android Central App for WebOS
  • I still argue that WebOS is the best mobile OS ever created, and that the features that iOS and Android are converging on are simply making them closer and closer to WebOS (including attempts at universal messaging, the card metaphor for multitasking, and universal search.
  • I miss Pidgin and the combined location for all chat clients.
  • I did use whatsapp, hangouts but have decided to just go with Facebook Messenger because it was path of least resistance. Most of my family and friends already had it so there ya go. Although I've noticed iPhone users don't like change or to download n install an app because in there minds "why not just send text messages" meaning SMS. Its not a bad app though. Has voice calls, messaging, voice messaging, video calling and my kids can video call mamaw from tablets so it works pretty good Posted via the Android Central App
  • Russell, take a look at Windows 10. I believe Microsoft's attempt to integrate Skype and SMS may be a step in the direction of unified messaging.
  • Seriously you don't need unified messaging in this day in age... What you really need is "Unified Software" aka "Synergy" something that we enjoyed while using "webOS" in the pre.
    It was possible in webOS and sooner than later will emerge back in Android.
    After all "Matias Duarte" creation and vision is alive and kicking and Android is becoming the evolution of webOS in many prespectives.
  • Is it really Google or Apple's fault about not being able to crack the unified messaging nut? Seems like every generation prefers a new method and companies are quick to come out with a new service to reel them in. My parents use SMS, my friends use Facebook messenger, my nieces use SnapChat... Seems generational and subject to never-ending change. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I want hangouts to lift off but stuggle getting all my family and friends onboard. I am probably at this point 70 sms/mms and 29% facebook messenger. 1% is split between hangouts and whatsapp
  • I don't get the fragmentation. I have lots of friends. We just all use SMS. Everyone has it. Two people sometimes use Hangouts but that's pretty rare. We don't use any of the other chat/messaging platforms. Then again we are all over 30 years old. SMS...just works.
  • sorry but iMessage blows away Hangouts. That is my one gripe about android. I have used verizon and at&t and messages on android is a total wreck.
    just texting my brother, some messages send, some get lost, and try and send a picture message. ...
    IF it sends at all, which is a 50/50 shot, once its delivered, it may or may not open. I have Never had an iMessage disappear or a picture not send.
    Android and texting is a Mess. I have had LG, Moto, Samsung, Nexus, Sony etc. ALL of them have issues just sending a basic text or picture message.
    facebook messenger is better than hangouts or any "native" message app on android for reliability.
    My