How Google And I Are Similar

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been noticing something really interesting, thanks to a little introspection and multiple rants over at r/Android. Google, the company, and I do things pretty similarly. I’m not talking about the way they stay nimble by having teams work in startup-like environments. I’m talking about how Google throws everything it has on the wall just to see what sticks after five months. 

Let’s start with Hangouts. Google took Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and the Hangouts feature of Google+ and spun them together into a single app in 2013, in hopes of providing us with a unified, centralized messaging experience. Since unified messaging experience was part of the marketing, many expected it to be a competitor to Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime.

In spite of the grandiose launch, Hangouts never really made it into popular culture. The app was horrifyingly buggy and the dev team worked at a snail’s pace squashing bugs and pushing out new features. SMS integration came along later and while many expected it to switch seamlessly between IMs and texts, like iMessage, it never did. Hangouts could juggle between video, messaging and SMS, but it wasn’t good at any of them.

Development ground to a halt and some redditors questioned if the Hangouts Android team even showed up for work. Last I heard, Hangouts is no longer part of the necessary Google Services package that OEMs are required to install on their phones

Over the summer Google launched Allo and Duo, a messaging and video calling app respectively. Allo was tied to your phone number, had the preview (yet amazing) version of Google Assistant and had fully encrypted secret chats with self-destructing messages. Duo was a video calling app with a lot of nifty features, like being able to see what the caller was upto before picking the call. So why not add in these features to Hangouts, which already had the messaging and video features? Google grew bored with Hangouts and tried something new. My gut tells me, if Allo and Duo don’t make it big in five months, Google will shutter them, come spring 2017.

Then there’s Material Design. Google introduced Material Design as a way of creating a consistent visual experience across all apps in the Android ecosystem. Nearly two years into this experiment, Google has scrapped the ‘icons with long shadows’ in favour of their new style inspired by nachos. Don’t believe me?

It seems to me that Google just gets bored of all the projects it has started, after a while. And that seems really close to how things work in my life.

There’s a couple of blogs I’ve started with friends and on my own, that never really took off because I got bored and never went around writing anything. Even this blog suffers from periodic bouts of abandon and neglect, when I’m just too busy and/or demotivated to write anything. There’s a Tumblr I started for sharing haikus I’d written that never went beyond nearly half a dozen haikus. Then there was the NaBloPoMo 2014 fiasco, where I set out to write every day for the whole of November, but stopped mid-way. Then there’s the newsletter I set up that has never had any mails sent out, the new section I started called Man Curates that didn’t go beyond one post. Oh, and before I forget, the “book review” of George Orwell’s 1984. 

These are just the things I’ve started and abandoned that are even remotely related to this blog. In my real life, there are thousands of other things that I start with great enthusiasm but drop later on as the excitement gives way to boredom. Programming languages, new skills, almost everything under the sun. I’ve started learning/doing something, and then left it at that later on. Sometimes it feels like I’m wasting my time dropping these plans just like that, but the procrastinator in me makes me believe I can pick up where I left, in the future, if need be.

As my close friend has said, many times over, this quality of mine is the only thing she finds repulsive in me. I tried to correct this flaw (?) of mine, and though it started out great, I kind of got bored and dropped the plan mid-way. 😅

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