Make room for Spaces, Google's messaging app for small groups

Google Spaces

As if there aren't enough social networks and messaging apps in the world, Google went ahead and made another one.

Spaces is a new app from the G team that aims to bring smaller groups together around a specific topic. A Spaces... space can be started and maintained around anything: a weekend getaway, a love of comic books, a study group or a book club.

Google says the inspiration for Spaces comes from users typically having to switch between various apps to copy and paste information into a group chat. Those chats are often derailed by unrelated topics, making it hard to follow what's been discussed about the subject that brought everyone together in the first place.

Spaces case

You can add others into a Spaces group with a link sent via text, email, or social network. With YouTube, Chrome and Google Search built in; you won't have to leave Spaces to access the items you'd find there, which is convenient.

Also helpful is a conversational view that pulls up what's been said while you were away so you don't miss an important (or not) detail. You can also search within Spaces to pull up an article, video, comment or image to reference from earlier in the conversation.

Though a pleasant idea, I can't help but be a little cynical about the likelihood of Spaces succeeding. Our devices are littered with messaging services, including some very good ones, which will make it difficult for Spaces to bring in lots of new users.

This isn't the first time a messaging platform has been built around the idea of small groups with a common reason to be there, either. The shutdown rate for these platforms isn't encouraging - some are even taking bets on how long it will be before Spaces will join them.

Spaces may find a niche for itself, sure, but I'm skeptical it's enough to convince users to break old messaging habits.

The company already tried - and failed - to build a social network with Google+, and that had a Communities feature of its own. Granted, that was meant for like-minded people to gather around a shared interest and not a more intimate circle of friends.

Some have posited that Spaces would be an ideal home for chatbots, similar to what we've seen with Facebook Messenger. While we probably won't see bots on the newborn app anytime soon, it's definitely a possibility if Spaces catches on.

Spaces isn't live yet, but attendees of Google IO 2016 will get a chance to check it out when the conference kicks off this week.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.