Google is introducing a text-messaging app called "Messenger" with the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop, the new version of its mobile operating system.
That, obviously, will be confusing because it has the same name as Facebook's existing messaging app. Do not expect folks at Facebook to jump for joy at this news.
Facebook Messenger is a juggernaut: It's currently No. 1 in the app store charts, according to App Annie. It has more than 200 million users, and that number will climb as Facebook requires its users to do their messaging separately inside Messenger instead of Facebook (the company's new policy). It's also a really good app.
Facebook also has another "messenger" app you may have heard of: WhatsApp Messenger. It's No. 3 in the app store charts. It has more than 600 million users.
It gets even more confusing because Google already has a really good messaging app. If you're an Android user, you'll know that Google's Hangouts app is one of the best things about Android — chat messages from your Gmail account follow you automatically on your phone. It's seamless.
So it's not clear why Google wants people on a traditional SMS/MMS text messaging platform as well. Google told the 9to5Google blog:
Messenger and Hangouts offer users choice, each have their own benefits. Hangouts work great for cross platform (web, iOS, Android) and cross medium communications (video, voice, messaging, SMS). Messenger will be specially designed to be a quick and easy way to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on Android; more to come (Nexus 6 will come with both apps).
And just to be even more confusing, "Messenger" used to be called "Messaging," according to Phone Arena.
OK, so users will have choices. That's great. It would be easier to figure out those choices if the product names were a little more distinctive, though. Just a suggestion.
Here's a chart:
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