From the Terminal

Google Chat is the worst desktop chat program I have ever used

Google Chat is the worst desktop chat program that I have ever used.

How bad is it exactly? Let's just say if I had to choose between using Google Chat and signing up for Comcast I'd choose Comcast every time.

Details? Okay.

Google Chat for Desktop login opens your default browser to login

Sounds reasonable right? Wrong.

A self contained application should need no browser at all to login.

I am required to use Google Chat for work. I use Google Chrome for work and Firefox for my personal stuff. I do not ever mix the two. I do not want my personal Gmail cookies anywhere near my work Gmail cookies. Mixing the two is a recipe for my work having access to my personal logins or accidentally syncing contacts. Do I really want to accidentally pocket dial one of my coworkers? Not really.

Guess what Google Chat does?

Clicking that goes to my default browser of course. Because you're not allowed to login to your work account on a secondary browser apparently. I literally have to copy/paste it's oauth login URL to Chrome myself.

Even more ludicrous since this is all using oauth Google Chat literally hosts it's own web server on your localhost so that it can redirect to itself upon success.

And this is just the login.

What happened to sending my login info over an HTTPS connection in the background and getting a session token back? I guess that's too simple for Google.

Google Chat is not really a chat program

Unlike every chat program in existence Google Chat is actually a distant relative of the now discontinued Google Wave. Chat messages are presented to you in the form of cards. Each card is a "discussion". A discussion is part of a "chat room". It's typical for me to see messages like this:

Yea that literally just happened.

The cards can each have new posts but you'll never know because it will update a card that is above your fold so you actually have to search for the new messages by scrolling up. After three new messages an old card will jump over a new card. This behavior is not obvious so you can have many cards jumping over each other as they are updated with no way to show them all on your screen at once. At least with a normal chat program everything is in chronological order. With discussions as cards it's entirely arbitrary.

When you private message someone it doesn't follow this paradigm. It's more like a typical chat program. Presumably because someone realized how silly the above is.

Google Chat reminds you to update by making you manually reinstall the program

It doesn't even download the update for you. It opens the link in your default browser.

I have to admit this isn't what made me annoyed enough to write this post. This however did.

I was in the middle of writing a complicated reply to an ongoing discussion about a bug when this popped up. It immediately took focus away from the reply input box and with the Update button pre-selected simply hitting enter was enough to trigger it. I hadn't even looked at the screen. I was referencing something else on another screen. By the time I hit enter Google Chat had killed itself. My reply was gone.

This is what greeted me next.

It took me a second to realize what I had just done.

After actually manually opening the dmg, dragging the icon from the mount to Application, and finally opening it I was greeted with this.

Yup the normal update process for Google Chat requires you to reinstall their program. Worst of all? It forgets your login.

May as well call itself Google Sign In at this point.

Which brings me to my next point.

Google Chat regularly forgets your login credentials

Like every person that works with computers I open my laptop on Monday and expect to be able to immediately communicate with my coworkers. Instead I am greeted with a "Sign in to continue" screen yet again. Presumably because not using an oauth token for a weekend is reason enough to invalidate it.

Google Chat forgets your login on Android at random

One day when I tried to use it on my phone I got one of these. I tried resetting the cache. I tried reinstalling the app. None of this worked. Eventually what did work was removing my work "G Suites" account from my Android phone entirely and then adding it back. So I guess I have to resync my cache of emails again.

Google Chat won't let you copy an image

This is what you see when you right click on an image. I regularly go around this by taking a screen shot. Presumably some shmuck at Google thought they were being security conscious. Apparently for this person screenshots don't exist.

Google Chat lets you download files by opening them in your default browser

So when I finally do need to actually download a file because I need to preserve meta data or it's not a normal image... say a PSD or a spreadsheet. There's a download link. Of course it goes to your default browser where I'm not logged in to this G Suite account. Off to copy/paste land I go. But wait you say. Why don't you just copy/paste the link itself?


Google Chat's emoticons are basic

Okay, this one is a little tongue in cheek but hey if Discord has this so should Google Chat! Do yourselves a favor Google and allow animated GIF emoticons and you'll be on even ground with Slack.


Frankly speaking Google Chat / Hangouts for G Suites is a mess that can only be realistically called a public beta and no one serious should be using it as their primary business communication tool.