Google’s new Babel chat platform includes ‘first class iOS experience’

By , Apr 19, 2013

Google Babel (TechRadar 001)

More details are trickling in on what to expect of Google’s upcoming unified messaging platform called Babel. Google’s internal documentation and code snippets discovered Wednesday indicate the Babel thing will support media transfers during chat sessions and group chatting ability. More importantly, the service will be available as a native app on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s own Android platform.

Of course, Babel is also going to be available on the web, as a Chrome web app and inside Gmail. The upcoming messaging platform should solve Google’s instant messaging conundrum that confuses users with nearly a doze different chat service that include Talk, Gmail, Google+ Hangout, Google Voice and Chat for Drive.

Even if way overdue, Babel will unify Google’s many messaging platforms into a single service. The Internet giant is likely to formally announce Babel at its upcoming Google I/O conference, which runs May 15-17 in San Francisco…

According to the Google Operating System blog, this web page that’s supposed to be available only to Google employees mentions “dogfooding Babel in Gmail.”

It also includes interesting references to some of Babel’s features.

Google Babel (TechRadar 002)

Specifically, code strings mention a new, conversation-based UI, advanced group conversations, the ability to send pictures and improved notifications across devices.

The following paragraph describing the upcoming service has also been spotted:

Upgrade Chat to Babel! Babel is Google’s new messenger with clients for Android, iOS, Chrome, Google+ and Gmail. Access the same conversation list from anywhere!

Babel will replace the standard Gmail chat client, but users will be able to revert to the old Gmail chat client from the chat roster menu.

According to a recent report by Droid-life, Google Babel is a collaborative effort by Google’s Android, Chrome,  Google+ and Apps teams.

“What’s particularly interesting, is that Google is talking about the iOS app as being the first time they have built a “first class iOS experience” when it comes to a messaging service,” the blog wrote.

Droid-life also discovered that Babel at a later stage will integrate Google Voice, Talk, Hangouts and Messenger.

Google Babel (Google Operating System 001)

Other alleged features obtained from an internal Google memo include the following:

Brand new UI. We’ve designed a new UI that’s applied across all clients and promotes conversations.

Stay in sync. With just one conversation list and experience across mobile and desktop, everything is always in sync. Install the Chrome app, the Android app, and iOS app.

Desktop app. Stop laying whack a mole across blinking browser tabs. With the new Chrome app your conversations continue outside of the browser.

Keep a group conversation going to coordinate with your team, and start a Hangout with a single tap whenever you need to talk face-to-face.

Be notified…just once. Get notifications on your two phones, tablet, laptop, and desktop. Open it on one and watch the others disappear. If you’re actively using your computer or phone we’ll even intelligently notify you on just one of those endpoints. Magic!

Message more than just text. Add a photo to the conversation and/or send some of the 800+ emoji to your coworkers. Kittens and poop are particularly helpful in explaining complex issues.

Get nostalgic. Scroll back in time and relive any (on-the-record) conversation, on any device.

More ways to talk. For the first time we are building a first class iOS experience. Try out our very early preview on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

People have called Babel a possible iMessage killer, but I think that’s a stretch because iMessage is limited to Apple devices only. The feature is built deeply into the bowels of Apple’s mobile operating system and integrates with the stock Messages application.

Because it blurs the line between carrier-based text messaging and Internet-based instant messaging, iMessage is more of a threat to the wireless carriers that have grown so complacent and arrogant that they never saw fit looking beyond SMS-based messaging.

Would you consider using Babel, assuming it’s indeed “first class iOS experience,” as Google is describing it in internal communication?

Leaked Google Babel screenies via TechRadar.

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  • Dan

    looking forward to this. I want something decent to bridge the iPod touch / android phone chat, I dislike skype so this could be an option.

    • Mohammed Sahib

      Try viber or tango.

    • felixtaf

      U can try IMO and add skype (u cant make calls thru skype, but its much better than stock skype app). Also, try Viber as Mr.Sahib stated..

  • http://www.facebook.com/vainstar Hermès Vainstar Chu

    But will it top whatsapp?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      i have never even used that.. why would i need it?

      • VITICO

        international texting..

      • Gorgonphone

        oh i use text free… the other person does not need to have text free to text with me

      • VITICO

        i have text free also.. but depending on their carrier plan they charge those people to text with you back.. with whatsapp they dont charge either of you..

      • http://www.facebook.com/im.skeleton Le Skeleton

        Apparently text free only appears ‘free’ to US users so I think it’s not considered ‘international (free) texting’…

      • http://twitter.com/lightsout565 Mike Romano

        “WhatsApp CEO says it has more users than Twitter and more messages than Facebook”

        It’s extremely popular, especially outside the US. Whether or not people will switch for Google’s Babel is yet to be determined..

      • Paul Taylor

        I’d like to think they would, but as soon as they get a message up saying “you need to create a Google+ account” they will hesitate… Whatsapp seems easier to users because it uses your existing number as the account id, and just starts working.

      • Transformer

        Not really..people prefer google interface since most people already use gmail, google chrome, google search etc.

      • disqusted

        May be true elsewhere, but personally, of all of my contacts, ZERO have WhatsApp. This immediately makes the software useless to me. On the other hand, only 2 of my contacts do not have iMessage (I could never be friends with an Android user, I don’t trust them!) Given this, the choice is essentially made for me. The only true benefits I found when using the app was the “last seen” and ability to set and see others status messages. In this respect, so does nearly every non-native app… From IMO to AIM, to everything else. Just purely opinion. I just felt or didn’t see any features that iMessage or any other chat program lacked that would make me choose it over any other hundreds of similar apps.

        Am I missing anything obvious that would compel me to use this? (Doesn’t matter much since there’s no way I’ll convince hundreds of people to make the switch from something that isn’t all too broken to begin with. It’s a matter of circumstance for me; you tend to use what is most accessible and try and stay away from proprietary anything— yes, iMessage is proprietary to Apple and their OS’s— but it’s also stock and seamlessly replaces standard SMS, literally in the exact same app/interface. The userbase is the key here. It’s safe to assume that if a person has an iDevice or Mac, that they have iMessage. On the other hand, the chance that they’ve any given non-native chat app installed, as found in my case, is approaching zero… Just my take here.

      • Paul Taylor

        You would need it if you have lots of people you want to message who are using Whatsapp… I can’t talk to my friends who use iMessage, or BlackBerry Messenger, because I’m on Android. But friends on Whatsapp can all talk to each other because it’s cross-platform. It shouldn’t be necessary really, but the non-interaction of the various proprietary messaging systems make it really handy at the present time. (And the app is superb – nice push notifications, looks neat, small data footprint. If Whatsapp had already integrated SMS support, like iMessage does, they would probably have cleaned up by now…)

      • Gray

        Out of all of my friends who I text, iPhone users, Android users, even the few WP7 users… not a single one of them use WhatsApp. At best, they might use Kik, but most of us just settle for actual texting. If they’re international, we just chat over Facebook.

        In my opinion, anyways, WhatsApp has an awkward interface and just isn’t worth my time or money. Why would I pay for something I could essentially do in so many other ways? I mean, Kik, Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, AIM, Skype, Yahoo, there’s so many free downloadable IM clients. Sure, you can argue that WhatsApp uses your phone number as your ID and is much “simpler,” but it still seems like a waste to me.

    • Mohammed Sahib

      Probably yes, whatsapp will become a paid service.

      • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

        it already is a paid service. anyone that signs up today technically gets a 1 year free trial

      • felixtaf

        Cant actually call it a paid service… 0.99$ for unlimited texting for a year!!! Still its paid service and perfect…

    • sambuzzlight

      never…. unless they sell out

    • Paul Taylor

      The current Google+ Messenger app on Android is effectively a Whatsapp clone.

  • iName

    Social networks are only as useful as the amount of people that use them. How are they going to convince people to ditch iMessage?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      cool branding and some hipp celebrity endorsements

      • iName

        Yeah, looked how well that worked out for Google+

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        lol.. well their maps are great…lolo

    • Chee Yu Yang

      imessage is built inside messages, people are not going to ditch it. when theres wifi, it’ll automaticly use it

    • http://twitter.com/warrenskipper Warren Skipper

      I don’t think they’ll have to convince people to ditch iMessage. The convenience that they’re describing with Babel will probably be enough. iMessage is restricted to iDevices while Babel will be cross-platform and on desktops. If Google does it right, I’m betting the stock Messages app will find itself not ever being used…

    • Gianflavio Gordillo

      they wont. but the market is literally half half so if you have an iphone theres a high chance you have friends with androids and vice-versa. there’s no imessage for android so us android users will only have one chatting app. while iphone users will have 2

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    omg how many chat methods do we need???

    • Falk M.

      Preach it.
      I still stick to the good old IMs, email, Skype. Period.

      Facebook chat’s only happening on my desktop multi-messenger.
      I hate chat logs being scattered around multiple places and I want them offline in one place. So chats I have outside my messenger it won’t log.
      The only things that sync properly to my desktop clients are Skype and iMessage. Although iMessage is quite bad at it and Skype isn’t a very good text based IM either, still syncs all the stuff at least it seems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tafk1 Taf Khan

    Google, always babbling on about something…

    • Gorgonphone

      exactly..

  • sambuzzlight

    umm i use default texting and whatsapp for international messages… idk where this fits but woudnt mind trying it

  • http://twitter.com/warrenskipper Warren Skipper

    I’ll definitely use this! The problem I’ve found with iMessage is half of my friends don’t have an iDevice so I’m restricted to using SMS for them. However, most people use at least one of the many Google services that Babel will incorporate. Plus, Babel will be accessible on desktops not to mention they’ll probably add Google+’s Hangouts video chat also (which is cross-platform)! iMessage is great but I could see myself not ever opening the stock Messages app again…

  • seyss

    if they force us to create a bullshit google+ profile like they did with Places and other services im OUT

  • http://twitter.com/HiTekkSteff Stephaughn Alston

    The one thing I like is “Be notified… just once”, I wish Apple would do a better job of that with iMessage!

  • Danielle Chan

    How will this be pronounced? Like “babble” or “bay-bull”?

  • Falk M.

    “Chrome app” pffft…
    Give me native code man!

  • Loopthree

    Isn’t the name too similar to ‘Babbel’?, the language learning site.