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Google Spaces: We Need Another Messaging App?

Google has added a few things to make this platform unique. There's a search box right in the app. You can share a website or something on YouTube for discussion

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Neither Google's messaging apps nor its social network Google+ have done particularly well. Every now and then there are rumours it's going to shut Google+ down altogether. But it plods on.

But Google isn't giving up. Today the search giant has launched a new platform called Spaces, available as an app on Android and iOS as well as on the desktop. If you haven't downloaded the app, an invitation to join a group will take you to the web browser.

Spaces is a place where you can create conversations with groups -- in fact Google refers to it as a small group messaging app. So, if you've a mind to chat about something with a few friends or family members, you just tap to create a group and invite. At work too, you could just tap to start a topic and gather a few people around it. At your office, you could be talking to one group about a project you're working on together and with another about where you're going out to lunch that afternoon. These are your spaces.

The groups and conversations arrange themselves interestingly, in tiles. This gives it a different look from the other messenger apps we're accustomed to. But why on earth do we need another messaging app?

Google has added a few things to make this platform unique. There's a search box right in the app. You can share a website or something on YouTube for discussion. It's doubtful whether very many everyday conversations typically involve referring to websites and YouTube, but Google thinks this is central to everyday talk.

The Spaces app is pretty enough, but anyone's first thought is likely to be that they already have enough spaces in which to have conversations, including the ever-popular WhatsApp, which is soon to include video calling. The thought behind Google's Spaces is that you don't need to leave the Spaces app to go get a link, do a search or bring in a photo or a YouTube video -- but this was hardly a crying need. It doesn't take all that long to switch apps and paste a link in a WhatsApp conversation, for example.

WhatsApp and just about every other messaging app now lets you create a group readily -- small, or large -- and it's a format one has become accustomed to. Users start a temporary group to discuss a party, share endless jokes, talk about family matters or put in continuous updates about a work related project.

Spaces doesn't let you exchange documents -- at least not yet. That limits its use as a work collaboration platform like Google's earlier Wave which was eventually shut down.

On the app stores, Google's Spaces is getting mixed reviews though it's at a rating of 4.3 currently. The majority are baffled about why one needs another messaging app at all while others believe one should stop thinking Facebook or WhatsApp while trying to evaluate Spaces. A few months down the line it will be interesting to see whether users have taken to the new platform or abandoned it after checking it out and satisfying their curiosity.

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