Author(s): Raghu Gopal
On the eve of the Google I/O 2016 developer conference, Google announced a new social service and app called Spaces. It focusses on group sharing, enabling small teams to share content. It's difficult not to respect Google's tenacity with this. It's déjà vu, once again. The app is a self-contained unit, making it smoother for users to share content across Google's suite of services. Users can have conversations about the content in a group chat-like interface. The app has already been launched for iOS and Android platforms, and is available for desktop as well.
Luke Wroblewski, product director at Google, said "With Spaces, it's simple to find and share articles, videos, and images without leaving the app, since Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome come built in.”
We know from history that group messaging is not an exact science. Even now, after several decades of effort, many major messaging apps still come up short. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, for example, are the most popular services for interacting with groups, but even in these platforms the process of sharing and discussing Web content isn't completely fluid. There is certainly room for improvement. It's too early to say if Spaces will take content collaboration to a new level, but it does appear promising.
It's also clear that messaging as a platform is a hot area. There have been major moves recently from Facebook, Microsoft and others to introduce bot frameworks powered by artificial intelligence. These systems link to their messaging platforms to create a broader set of uses in the consumer and enterprise markets.
Web chatter was quick to point out that this wasn't Google's first attempt at something like this. Nor its second. It's certainly fair to mention that 'the company's track record here is spotty. There's been Google Wave, Google Talk and Google Hangouts. And then there was Google+, the company's effort to compete with Facebook. Google+ Communities emerged in 2012 as an alternative to Facebook Groups, but 'the attempted integration of Google+ in YouTube was a misstep and there was a massive redesign in November 2015 that greatly simplified the scope of the service.
The company said it plans to 'experiment' more with the new app at its Google I/O 2016 conference to kick-start interest in Spaces. It will create communities on the app for each of the sessions being held at the event, and those in attendance can interact with one another using the new service.
Given Google's lead in artificial intelligence it should be well-placed to play a leading role if bots become a mainstream way of interacting with online services. But the company will need a popular social platform in order to capitalize fully on the opportunity.
With Google announcing a new messaging app called Allo for iOS and Android devices that comes with a built-in Google Assistant, it will be interesting to see if the new service fares better than its predecessors.