Google Chat will default to unthreaded chat rooms to eliminate the confusing mess
Google Chat is about to change the way it organizes conversations. Following criticism that threaded conversations are confusing, Google has confirmed that newly created rooms will soon be unthreaded by default. According to a posting in the Google Workplace blog, the change will kick in on all rooms created after November 16th. Google notes, however, that you won’t be able to switch between threaded and unthreaded in existing rooms, but you can toggle between the two options when you create new ones.
One advantage of unthreaded rooms is the option to toggle chat history on and off, via the Admin console’s “room history” setting. It will be up to each Workspace Admin to decide whether to enable history, rather than being an option for the end-user. Conversely, the new unthreaded rooms are not something that admins can disable.
Such a fundamental change is, indirectly, a result of the pandemic, which has already seen Google Meet become a free service to all, ahead of the originally planned rollout which was due in 2021. Ultimately, Google Meet and Google Chat will replace Google Hangouts, the increasingly neglected yet stalwart chat app which is being retired at around the same time.
Google Chat has had to adapt and evolve far faster than was ever intended, due in no small part to the world situation, and the threaded conversations, similar in style to Slack, are one example of a feature which has been tried and hasn’t worked out. It’s good to see Google is willing to adapt in this way. Given that its previous exploits with communication apps — GTalk, Google Allo/Duo, and Google+, to name a few have ended up in a hot mess, it’s clear that Google is committed (at least for now) to making Google Meet and Google Chat work out. Until they think of yet another reinvention, of course.