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20 May 2013, 15:24

Google's chat client drops Jabber compatibility

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The new Hangouts app
Zoom Hangouts replaces Google Talk - but not all service users are pleased, as shown by the current mediocre average user rating of 3.5.

Google is currently deploying an update for its Talk chat client that will replace it with the new Hangouts app. Introduced last week at the I/O developer conference in San Francisco, the Hangouts application is designed to put an end to having three simultaneously available real-time Google communication services – Talk, Google+ Messenger and the original Google+ Hangouts – and is available for Android, iOS, Windows, and as a Chrome extension.

With its improved video chat and group conversation features and enhanced synchronisation of multiple devices, Hangouts is more powerful than its predecessor and presents a potential challenge for successful services such as Skype, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The developers also plan to integrate at least some features of the Google Voice telephony service.

However, Hangouts has one serious disadvantage compared to Talk: it no longer recognises the XMPP open source chat protocol, better known as Jabber. This format enabled Google Talk to communicate with any XMPP account, even if the account isn't registered with a Google server, and therefore, users who have many chat contacts outside of Google should think twice before they update to Hangouts. These users could potentially lose access to numerous contacts.

XMPP is the latest in the range of well-established open protocols to be dropped by Google. Major media attention was generated in recent months by the plan to discontinue Google Reader and its support for RSS and the removal of iCal from Google Calendar. Google is even lining up its own competitors for widely used standards such as JavaScript and HTTP with its Dart and SPDY projects.



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