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Google’s Unified Chat Actually Named “Babel” – Coming to Android, iOS, Chrome, G+ and Gmail


Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a handful of reports suggesting that Google is on the verge of releasing a unified chat service called “Babble.” This new service was rumored to have merged services  like Voice, Talk, and Google+ Messenger into a cross-platform chat solution, hopefully ending the siloed and independent chat experiences that we all currently experience. While most of those reports were on the right track, we believe that the actual name of the new Google messenger service is called “Babel” rather than “Babble,” at least internally. 

According to sources of ours, with Babel, you’ll get a seamless messenger experience across Android, iOS, Chrome, Google+ and Gmail. From what we have seen, there is no mention of Google Voice or other services outside of the five we just mentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be there at some point. As of now, this is being tested internally as a cross-platform service through those five platforms (Android, iOS, Chrome, Google+ and Gmail).

Google is selling the service as having these features:

  • Access the same conversation list from anywhere
  • A new, conversation-based UI
  • Advanced group conversations
  • Ability to send pictures
  • Improved notifications across devices

So what does “Babel” mean? It has a variety of meanings, that all make sense in some round-about way. The semi-hilarious thing about the name, is the fact that the definition of the word by itself has to do with a confused mixture of sounds, voices, or languages. But if you think about the movie Babel, with Brad Pitt, the name tends to make more sense. The movie itself focuses on four interrelated situations and conversations that all eventually come together in the end through a single phone call that is played from two different perspectives from the beginning and then the final scene. When you think of a unified messenger client, this idea of merging conversations from different perspectives or places seems to make a lot of sense. Then of course, there is the biblical meaning.

Another interesting item of note – there is already a chat service on Android called Babel (Play link), however, it appears to have a small international user base.

Would Google really name a service after a Brad Pitt movie? Have they gone biblical? Babel could be an internal codename for all we know. Obviously, we’ll keep this as a rumor until further details surface.

  • dapoktan

    i want a windows app like the google talk app.. i have it open at all times.. i dont always have a browser open.. 🙁 am i a small minority?

  • Guilleamd

    Babel means literaly “confusion”. A contradicción.. Dont you think?

  • Mike

    Stupid question BUT will this be merging regular messaging too? Pretty much the same thing as ichat I hope?

  • vega25

    This is an early April fool’s joke you guys!

  • The Dude

    So once again they won’t integrate Voice. The app hasn’t been updated in years, is Google going to abandon it?

  • Dinofan01

    What should happen: Google kills Talk and messenger and replaces it with Babel in all their services. Google pulls Voice to work improve it in secret. Relaunch Voice when Google starts their own wireless network. It will be an LTE network that relies solely on data. Phone and Messages will die and be replaced by Voice in Nexus devices available on Google Wireless.

    Damn I wish all that was true…

  • Derek Lockovich

    I can’t believe the theological nonsense going on in these comments.

    Anyway, I’ll be glad to see Google’s introduction. The only thing I’m worried about is will this include text messaging. If so, that means it’ll come standard on all Nexus devices, right?

    I can see OEMs removing the app and inserting their own text messaging/chat client (*cough* Samsung’s ChatOn*cough*)… I mean it’ll take an extra step to download it, but at least with Android you can set it as default and be done with the nuisance that is an OEM messaging app. :l

  • Oh dear lord, and you call yourself ‘nerds’. “Babel’ is an obvious reference to the Babelfish from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    From Wikipedia and the book :

    “The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”

    Do you see? It’s a fish that enables unified, universal communication.

    • JMonkeYJ

      altho to be fair, that fish’s name was a clear reference to the biblical meaning…

  • Trisjen Harris

    This would sounds like it will provide the ability of voice and text in one across different devices!! Bring it on GOogle!! Google equals winning!!!

  • RaptorOO7

    Nice of Google to offer something unifying.

  • That is thw worst name they could have possibly choose. Nobody will even know what it is until they use it.

    Joe:Hey have you used babel?
    Bob:No, that sounds stupid as hell
    Joe:Its the new unified messenger from google!
    Bob:That explains the stupid name..

  • cloutist4

    So my bet is it combines the functionality of a unified messaging app with google translate.

  • It’s Babel as in Babel-fish from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. A small device that was put in the ear and automatically translated any outside audio to your natural language.

  • Batman

    Anyone remember Babelfish?

  • What movie is this pic from?

  • Taylor Levesque

    The babel fish from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy translates any language into one you understand if it’s in your ear.

  • It would be nice if the merged SMS functionality into the app too so that I could do all my messaging from one place and have ALL convos in the cloud. Looks like I’ll have to stick to my current FB Messenger + MightyText combo solution *sigh*

  • i really hope this includes SMS too, instead of sending as a text it uses data like iMessage. Wouldn’t need any other app.

    • Roshan John

      And to piggyback on that, I really hope it has group text capabilities! like iMessage. I don’t know how people don’t complain about this more.

      • ceejw

        People complain less because group texting was added in 4.2

        • Roshan John

          My only 4.2 device is a Nexus 7.. just learned now that group text is native on Android 4.2

    • jimas

      Yeah, it’ll be great if this merged with SWS, so that it can have feature parity with iMessages on that regard…additionally, it would be nice if they made it dead simple to place a VOIP call. With FB rolling out voice calls via messenger, google would really need to roll something like that out soon to stay in the game.

    • Xavier Spruill

      That would be incredible. Almost be the perfect Android app as far as I am concerned. EXCEPT I hate the idea of it coming to iOS. Call me what you will, but I think this is the one thing Google should be willing to keep strictly Android. So that we have a TRUE I message and BBM counterpart. I understand the openness but come on Google give us Android users ONE thing to gloat about that isn’t going to make its way to iOS.

      • Scott Hardy

        I disagree. I want it available on ALL platforms, including Windows Phone and Blackberry. I want one messaging service that I can use to connect with all of my friends, regardless of the platform they are running

        • Xavier Spruill

          I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything, but there’s Skype messenger, Facebook messenger, aim, yahoo messenger, the soon-to-be defunct MSN messenger, Whatsapp, KIK, IMO. Point is, there is dozens of cross-platform messengers that a search through the app market will reveal. Google doesn’t need to add another drop in the bucket. Just unify all their offerings into one super messenger, include it with the stock gapps so its preloaded and has to be disabled (to ensure everyone with Android has it). We lost voice search, we’re losing Now, iOS has an arguably superior gmail experience, along with maps, and turn by turn navi. All things I once used to convert the Apple faithful over to Android in the past. And can no longer do. I’m simply saying give us something to hold on to.

  • Did you know that Babel is also the name used in the Hebrew Bible for the city of Babylon?

  • Pat Hamilton

    Would be cool if it set the language on your phone and anyone who sent you anything in any language showed up on your side already translated. Guess that could lead to autocorrect type annoyances though.

  • Litso

    Seriously Droid-Life? “Would Google really name a service after a Brad Pitt movie?” The term Babel is LEAST associated with the movie. Tower of Babel? Babelfish translation service? Come on.

  • beluga

    SIgh, where do you guys get your education from? TV? 🙂

    The 1st time I heard Babble I thought it must be Babel since (a) Google isn’t giving their products silly names and (b) it’s supposed to *unify communication*… The movie, as well as the Babel fish of course all take the name from the biblical reference. And like the Babel fish makes it possible for everybody to communicate, the Babel service is bridging all the listed forms of communication into one… … ….

  • droidbeat

    Seems ironic, since Babel is synonymous with actions that result in the loss of understandable communication.

  • Mikey Styles

    I think people should not get to over-zealous as of yet. Nothing is a for sure thing & is up to some speculation @ this point. Google Voice would be a horrid mistake to just shut down, for many reasons stated in the comments. So I highly doubt it’s going to happen just yet but is possible in the future.

    One thing I can see being a key reason to uniform these chat services is having to maintain all the different types & the hours that go into them…….plus I have a feeling this is gonna be like how Blackberry had BBM(Blackberry Messeger). Maybe I’m off but I like the idea of having some uniformity.

  • Will this also include sms? Why not make it a one stop place to… text?

  • Austin Warren

    Brad Pitt is one sexy MF

  • vivek chauhan

    Nice but what the meaning of this name

  • sasha

    One ring to rule them all. Its called imo.

  • baconslayer09

    I guess it’s alright if there’s no Google Voice integration. As long as Google doesn’t kill Voice, there’s always Fusion Messenger.

  • TBolt

    I hope it has file transfer.

  • XvierX

    This would be so helpful imo. I look forward to being able to continue Google+ chats via my Chrome browser. That’s the benefit I’m most eager to gain. Also, I never got why I could share pics using Google+ messenger but not with Gtalk. This is going to be awesome!

  • StuntinX

    Spoiler Alert…. gosh!… lol

  • Tyler

    Just imagine if this catches on “Hey babe want to babel tonight?” Personally i think it should be play babel but thats just me.

  • TheWhiteLotus

    “This new service is rumored to have merged services like Voice, Talk, and Google+ Messenger”

    ” there is no mention of Google Voice or other services that we didn’t just list”


    • Other reports said Google Voice, ours sources did not.

      • TheWhiteLotus

        I’m confused though since you did just list Google Voice, then you said you didn’t list it.

        • First paragraph is talking about previous reports. Second paragraph is our report.

          • TheWhiteLotus

            Ah, I get it. I think it is a little confusing because what you mentioned in the second paragraph are more platforms which feature services like Google Talk and Voice and Messenger.

      • sirmeili

        I hop they include GV. I would use the free texting, but I just can’t stand that the items aren’t split up into threads like the messaging app. Completely ruins the experience for me.

  • kniceguy

    Biblical Babel makes more sense if you ask me. Tower of Babel in the bible is where/when everyone spoke the same language and then God introduced new langauges. So probably the analogy is that now everyone can communicate again, like at Babel.

    • TheWhiteLotus

      I thought the story was that god made everyone speak in nonsensical languages because they had the nerve to try to build a ladder to heaven.

      • Jarred Sutherland

        They built the tower of Babel in fear or another global flood that would wipe them out again.

    • ChristianJohnson

      God basically confused the language that humans spoke. We all spoke one language, but because of the events of the Tower of Babel, God confused the language. Thus creating many languages we have today.

    • Skittleoid

      I thought God only existed in fairy tales…

    • Steve Schneider

      Thus the problem with Christianity. So many different versions/stories nobody seems to know anything about it. It seems every Christian story ends with a question mark, or someone questioning it’s validity.

      • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

        That has nothing to do with Christianity and more to do with human beings ability to tell a story back from their perspective. If you read all the responses you get the almost the same story. If you asked a Mormon or Muslim or some other person who follows a different religion to tell you a story from their bible you would probably get the same thing.

        • Jdub

          You do realize that Mormons use the bible with the same stories and Muslims use the Koran.

          • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

            Mormons also have different stories in their Bible thats why its called The Book of Mormon. Obviously the Muslims use the Koran but if you actually read what I said, you would see I said “their” Bible(d. A book or collection of writings constituting the sacred text of a religion).

          • You are seriously wrong. The Church of Jesus Christ of Day Saints, or Mormons, use the king James version of the Bible. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ which was written by a different group of people in the world at the same time as the Bible. Do your research before showing your ignorance. Even if you don’t agree with a religion, do not spread lies and misinformation about it.

          • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

            LDS theology includes the Christian doctrine of salvation only through Jesus Christ,[4] though LDS doctrines regarding the nature of God and the potential of mankind differ significantly from mainstream Christianity.The church has an open canon which includes four scriptural texts:[5] the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
            Other than the Bible, the majority of the LDS canon constitutes
            revelation dictated by Joseph Smith and includes commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by ancient prophets.

            Im not really sure why you think im trying to spread lies. I dont care what other people believe. I simply stated that if you ask somone from another religion to tell you a story from what ever holy book they follow, you will get slightly different versions of that story just like that elementary shcool telephone game.. Chill geez

          • mustbepbs

            Are you kidding me? The Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith under “inspiration” not too long ago and is absolutely uninspired of God and has many contradictions with Biblical teachings found in the actual inspired Word. Plus, it basically copies word for word some scriptures at points from the Bible, not even quoting or mentioning who said it first.

          • lol joseph smith was a convicted con-man he made the whole thing up. you can’t be serious, the whole thing is ridiculously phony.

          • He was NOT a convicted con man. He had faults like any other man, but I believe he was called of God. Unles you read the Book of Mormon, not just quotes out of it, you can’t say that it sounds phony. A 19 year old man with the education of a 3rd grader couldn’t have written it without assistance from God.

          • jaduncan

            “A 19 year old man with the education of a 3rd grader couldn’t have written it without assistance from God.”

            Maybe we recall our intellectual developments differently; I’m not sure why you’d think that a 19yo couldn’t have written it. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at that age, and Frankenstein is a considerably greater literary accomplishment.

          • Lord_Data

            You can say it was a false conviction if you want… but you can’t deny that he WAS convicted, the court transcripts exist.

          • mustbepbs

            Actually, Mormons primarily use the Book of Mormon. They are two separate books, the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

          • you should look up mormonism it is christian only in name, if you look at their theology it reads like a bad sci-fi novel

      • mustbepbs

        There’s only one story, and that’s in the Bible. How religions decide to warp or alter it is no fault of the Bible or its Author. There’s a huge difference between Christianity (literally meaning Christ Like), and Christendom (many of the so called “Christian” churches that preach politics and what they believe is right, rather than the actual word of God).

        • Evan Knofsky

          How about we start with the fact that the bible is a bunch of bull

          • mustbepbs

            Care to elaborate?

          • steevka
          • mustbepbs

            There are no contradictions. The Bible is full of symbolism, and there are tons of translations of the scriptures. Unfortunately, those things don’t mix very well. For instance, John 1:1 says that the Word (Jesus) was a god (note: not God) in the NWT. But in the King James Version, it says the Word was God. In other translations, it backs up what the NWT says, but it goes to show that different translations translate words differently.

            Like the cross actually meaning “stake” in Greek. It wasn’t a cross, it was a large wooden stake.

          • TylerChappell

            But it’s doesn’t matter because it is all still a lie. The bible is simply not truth. Noah’s Ark? Jonah and the Whale? Seriously? What are you? A child?

          • mustbepbs

            You mean all of the recent discoveries that have proven there was a global deluge? And all of the Biblical scrolls being found, dated, with prophecies dating years in advance that are backed by historical texts?

            What are you? Ignorant?

        • TylerChappell

          There isn’t one story. There are many, none of which are factual.

          • mustbepbs

            Sounds like you’ve got some solid evidence.


          • Timothy McGovern

            ^Finally a Christian that has evidence to back up what he believes. Most Christians don’t do research and don’t study the history of transcripts. Then you have athiests that only believe what fits their lifestyle. People need to do their homework… Rant over.

    • r0lct

      I agree, if they using that name I would imagine there’s going to be a real-time translation component to it too potentially.

    • mustbepbs

      I don’t know why you’re getting up votes, you’re not correct. Nimrod (and his kingdom) was attempting to build a tower to Heaven in opposition to God, to make a name for themselves. God saw the detrimental effects of a unified humankind not under his rulership and proceeded to confuse the then unified language, separating the people and severely hindering the project.

      • kniceguy

        Well, yes, I went ahead and simplified a bunch of stuff, but I still think it makes more sense and for the same reason that everyone initially spoke the same language

      • Actually you are not quite correct. The unified language was the reason the people could unite to build the tower. YHWH didn’t destroy the tower. YHWH destroyed language. So the top comment is correct.

        • mustbepbs

          What? I never said He destroyed the tower. And I basically said that the unified language was the reason for their success.

          Did you even read my comment?

          • Judging from your comments elsewhere in this thread, I’m going to bow out I think.

            The comment you were originally trying to “correct” wasn’t incorrect. Have a nice day.

        • Dain Laguna

          He didnt destroy the tower, but the top comment reads like if God just randomly introduced languages. He did it because of the disrespect nimrod was showing in thinking he was so great and lofty enough to reach heaven.

          Error filled top comment is Error filled. Context is key.

          • mustbepbs

            Thank you.

          • [[[…babysmoker…]]]

            Y’all were there?? Ohhh my, do tell

      • he’s not wrong his statement was just extremely simplified. You knew exactly what he was talking about he just left out extraneous bits. the point is the app is unifying all the apps that couldn’t communicate with each other before. so they probably got inspiration from the babe-fish via the babel myth.

    • Michael

      Totally agree with OP. Tower of Babel points out the need to communicate! Why don’t the people writing these articles get this?

    • nate

      Or maybe they are just real big mumford and sons fans lol

  • Artune

    I’m surprised you did not bring up the Biblical meaning of “Babel” more than likely Google wasn’t thinking about a silly (but enjoyable) brad pitt movie. The story from the bible makes much more sense.

    • I threw a link in there to it, just wasn’t the first thing that popped into mind heh.

      • Artune

        That’s fine, no harm in referencing the movie as well.

        • It was also from a MUCH better series of books before a movie.

  • Babel Fish from HHGTTG i’m assuming is where the name comes from…

    “The Babel fish is small, yellow, leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds on brain wave energy, absorbing all unconscious frequencies and then excreting telepathically a matrix formed from the conscious frequencies and nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain, the practical upshot of which is that if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language: the speech you hear decodes the brain wave matrix.”


    • More likely is the Tower of Babel… Which according to the bible, is where all languages came from. In other words, it’d have a connection to multiple platforms communicating across one another.

      • I’m sure it is also where Douglas Adams got the name for the Babel fish. Even before when it was being called babble, I still thought of the Babel fish. I think that Google would tend to lean more towards the side of Geek than religion.

    • theineffablebob

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the source of the name. It is Google, after all.

      Also, fun fact: Alta Vista’s BabelFish was the de facto online translator until Google Translate came along.

    • kash521

      I immediately thought of the Babel Fish when I saw the name of this article.

  • JetBlue

    I feel as if Google is trying to slowly kill Google Voice.

    • Aw cmon, they never kill services.

      • If they do, I think my life will quickly end. I can’t live without Voice.

        • MrWicket

          +1 bagillion

        • Gvoice is my only phone right now

        • StuntinX

          What is the end all feature of Voice that Bable wouldn’t have? Cheaper calls, visual voicemail? From what I can tell Bable would have the rest.

          • I’m convinced that Google uses the Voice Transcriptions in Voice to help with other voice related things (Voice Actions, Google Now etc). There’s a box to help you mark whether the transcription was accurate or not, and it makes sense they would use this for other services, rather than remain just within Google Voice. Just an idea though.

        • Jigga_Z

          I feel like Google won’t kill Voice. If they’re planning on expanding Fiber, they’d eventually want to bundle it as the phone option for homes.

        • At this point I just wish either a competitor would do something like Voice…or Google would straight up charge for it and give it the much needed make over it needs. I love Voice, but I’m sick of the app that hasn’t had a functional update in like 3 years.

          • Also, I do kinda doubt Voice will be included. All the other services are already essentially google talk right now…it should be relatively easy to brand them the same, and toss in some extra features. Voice however is something completely different.

      • Especially not one-of-a-kind services like Voice and Reader.

    • Michael Quinlan

      If they’re not trying to kill it, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

    • rekem

      I paid to have my number ported, like a lot of people, and Google is a virtual carrier so they’re in for a fight if they want to pull that one. Lawsuits and FCC, not petitions. As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy if Voice never gets tainted by Google+ anyway.

    • PSU_DI

      Google Voice, IS my home phone line. I ported my land line to it and I’m using the OBi ATA, as a way to get free domestic calls. If Google is discontinues the service, I’m not sure what I’d do.

  • This sounds very cool. I can’t wait.