From poorly-executed "leaks" to potential legitimate sightings, there's been a lot of hubbub about Google's supposed unified messaging service, likely called Babel. This isn't necessarily surprising. After all, if you asked most Android enthusiasts what feature they most wanted from the platform in its next iteration, you'd hear a lot about unified messaging. We've tried to stay clear of covering every flurry of Babel-related murmurings so far, but today we saw something new – Google+ user Patric Dhawaan posted a screenshot of what he says is a notification in Gmail, triggered when "pruning" his inbox.

At first, we were a bit suspicious of the screenshot. After all, we've seen many a fake over the years. Before we get into the legitimacy of the screenshot though, let's have a look.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 10.53.38 AM

Essentially, the notification is a line of text explaining that the group of messages the user has just deleted included some from Babel chats, and those will still be available "in other Babel chat applications." But a line of text is pretty much the easiest thing in the world to fake, right? That's true, but (typically, anyway) editing a screen snippet like this in, say, Photoshop, would change the file very subtly.

The screenshot, as we can learn from tools like FotoForensics, was taken from an Apple computer. Screenshots taken from Apple computers are, by default, named Screen Shot YYYY-MM-DD at TT.TT.TTam.png, and contain a few lines of XML data that look something like this:


The original file (which you can find here) fits both specifications. What's important, though, is that editing a screenshot like this and then saving it again will eliminate the above data from the file. The notification could be faked using some simple code, but there are other clues that point to its legitimacy. A few commenters on Patric's post confirm the popup message, one going so far as to say he can reliably reproduce it (and will post more later).

Finally, we can be pretty sure that not only is Babel the name of the service, but that it will be present in Gmail in the future. Just have a look at this quick search of the Chromium bug group.

In the end, if this screenshot is a fake, someone went to a lot of unnecessary trouble to make it, and ended up pretty close to the mark anyway. Check out the original post and follow the discussion below.

Source: Google+

Update: Since our original post, more Babel evidence has trickled in. In a post to Google+, Roga Moore pointed out a hint at video chat, found in a Google code issue here specifically, the linked issue contains a crash log with the following line.



Additionally, Roga Moore reminds us that official Google apps universally start with "com.google.android.apps", so all eyes should be on https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.babel, where the app will almost undoubtedly live once it is announced.

Update Source: Google+

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

    Maybe the screenshot's legit and he used something like Firebug or a built-in html editor. Photoshop isn't the easiest thing to fake that picture y'know...

    • DaS4ilor

      This. Some simple javascript code can also do that.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It's possible, but given the rest of the evidence I'd still say it's not edited.

      • Anders Mårtensson

        It takes a whole of a couple of minutes to fake though, not "a /lot/ of trouble". It's just about faith really, if someone wanted to fake it it's ridiculously easy and fast and with literally 0% chance for it to be seen through just by examining the picture. But would someone bother, regardless of how easy? That's the real question.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Fair point. It's not a lot of trouble to make the screenshot, just unnecessary effort.

    • paradox460

      Chrome's web inspector is built in. For example, I can make your comment say you eat gratuitous amounts of potatoes:

      • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

        Firefox has a built-in editor too, using Ctrl-Shift-I I can change your comment to say that you eat gratuitous amounts of potatoes.

        • paradox460

          Opera and IE have it too. Its a fairly common standard now. But of all of them, Webkit's inspector is the only one in the same league as, and possibly better than, firebug

  • Whitenova

    From my strict christian upbringing, all I can think of is the Tower of Babel, basically a huge skyscraper which was never finished according to the bible. I always imagined Google was calling it Babble, as I just heard the rumors from friends.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I think Babel still makes sense - after all, according to the story, the tower was being built when the whole world operated under one language, before god spread everyone out and "confused their languages."

      • Whitenova

        Haha wow I definitely missed that connection! but instead of confusing the languages, it is doing the opposite and taking all their different messaging systems and moving them into one! Good one, Google.

        • mesmorino

          If it's doing the opposite, it should probably be called something different. As in, something that reflects what it's actually doing. If your car takes you forwards, and you name it "backwards", you're not doing yourself any favours

          • Whitenova

            true, that is how the story pans out. The Tower of Babel was built as a sign of what people could accomplish when working together, as one. Which is exactly what Google Babel will become with good adoption of the service. Of course, every service will someday run its cycle and be replaced, scattering its users to the new competing services of that day.

      • Danootz

        Two things come to mind when I see Babel, the Tower, and the Babel Fish. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babel_fish_(The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy)#Babel_fish ) I could be wrong, but I think they'd lean more towards the sci-fi, functional language device, than the Tower.

        • andy_o

          I find it hard to believe that Douglas Adams wasn't referencing the bible there in the first place.

          • Danootz

            Yeah. No doubt the name was a biblical reference. I only meant to mention it because at least the Babel fish has a more positive spin. Because I would agree that it seems like a bad idea to name a product working towards unifying communication after something that ended with mankind not being able to talk to one another.

            Google probably wishes Yahoo didn't have the Babel Fish product, otherwise they might have been able to use that. But then, Babel might just be a code name for the project for now.

      • Barton82

        I don't think Babel makes sense. It comes from Hebrew word meaning something like confuse, mix up, disturb, muddle, things like that. I don't think these are good attributes for a messaging app.

  • http://twitter.com/Alankrut Alankrut Patel

    I feel like sticking with the name Google Talk would be great

    • http://cassidyjames.com Cassidy James

      Agreed. It has a huge user base and mindshare already; not sure why they would kill that. Unless they play it as an upgrade of Talk, like, "Talk is now Babel." But even then, Babel isn't a very good name for a messenger service. :)

      • Magnus100

        They're weird like that at Google. The play store used to be called Android market, etc. You'd think they would just leave the name as Google Talk or even Google messenger, but I prefer the former.

    • apomk2

      I think it would be better for them to start fresh. It's hard to communicate to people that something has changed.. A new name easily communicates that this is a new thing, so Google wouldn't have to keep educating people that the new Google Talk is different from the one they tried years ago.

  • Floris

    At least Google Babel sounds better than Google Babble.. Although this reminds me of babelfish, which ceartanly is not a good thing to start with

    • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja Zargh

      What probably happened with "Babble" is that Geek.com received its tip verbally, and the tipster used the "bah-bel" pronunciation instead of the equally valid "bay-bel" and the writer chose the wrong word due to similarity.

    • Freak4Dell

      What? No it doesn't. At least Babble had something to do with chatting.

  • http://mitchs.co Mitch Samuels

    What is this, a Mumford & Sons album?

  • Danny Holyoake

    Where'd you get that rockin' logo/icon?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I made it based on some earlier suspicions about the Babel icon. I'll attach a larger one.

      • http://cassidyjames.com Cassidy James

        Cool! You should holo-ify it according to the Android design guidelines (add the slight depth and top-down perspective).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo
  • http://cassidyjames.com Cassidy James

    I absolutely don't understand why they'd call it anything other than Google Talk. Talk already has millions of users (every Gmail user and most Android users), and people already know about it.

    I can only hope that Babel is an internal joke about the messaging services being disconnected, speaking different languages, and not understanding each other.

    • Kelvin Davis

      I'm betting it's just gonna be messenger.

      • loranz Yousif

        I hope they just call it 'Google Messenger'. I don't think anyone would take me serious if they ask me what I'm doing and I say "just bablin'"

        And speaking of a unified messenger, here's what I imagined it would look like.

        • Justin Swanson

          Care to share it? It looks pretty awesome.

          • loranz Yousif

            It's just a mock up I did a while ago. Not a real app. =)

        • Lalit Mali

          Ioranz the screenshots are f**ing AWESOME!
          I want that app!

    • mesmorino

      THANK YOU. For a minute there it was like nobody was realising that the babel name is referencing confusion and disconnection between languages. It's like the worst possible name you could choose for your messaging app.

      • Taedirk

        Babel was a great idea. Everyone can communicate, so let's build a city and a huge frickin' tower so we can make a name for ourselves and have a nice central town. God looks down, sees how a single language gives humanity the means to do anything, and then throws a temper tantrum about the whole thing.

        • mesmorino

          1) You don't need to be disrespectful about God
          2)The bible does clearly state, and God Himself clearly states, "I am a Jealous God"
          3)Speaking the same language does not give humanity the means to do anything, as evidenced by the large number of English speakers who can't even agree on how to spell "aluminium"
          4)The reason for them being afflicted with babel was not their reasonable goal, it was the hubris behind it.

          • ScottColbert

            Yes being disrespectful of fictional characters is a no-no on the internet.

          • QwietStorm

            Someone always has to do what you just did, right? It's just *that* tempting?

          • Matthew Fry

            And the cycle continues.

            First there was the comment. The Internet looked at it and it was good. Man looked upon the comment and found that it was trollable. The pride of the man was so great that he posted an offensive retort. And it came to pass that there was posted the anti-offensive comment, and the meta-comment about the comments. The meta-meta-comment chronicling the conversation, written satirically but good naturedly, was declared and the Internet was satisfied.

          • mesmorino

            You're just being an ass. You may not believe in God, you may think it's just a bunch of loonies believing in an invisible dude in the sky, but, and here's the crucial bit, *you don't need to be disrespectful about it*.

            How is that concept difficult to understand? You may not agree with something, you may in fact think it's amazingly stupid, but that doesn't mean that you have to belittle and insult it either.

          • Larizard

            It's the internet guys. If you're that sensitive about a topic, you have two options: 1) close your browser; or 2) waste your time defending your point.

        • Tom

          Really don't wanna start a God conversation, they get out of hand, but the reason he did so according to the Bible was because it conflicted with his principle of "go fill the earth". They were trying to stick to one place...

          everything aside. Babel is a horrible name, not only because of what the word denotes, but just because...it doesnt roll off the tongue nicely lol

          • Justin Foster

            This will sound "controversial" or "paranoid" but the name is no accident. The way current events are unfolding, the tower of Babel represents for us today, the creation of a New World Order which will again defy God and persecute those that believe in that "fairy tale creature." All of the trends in movies, music, video games, and other forms of entertainment are of spiritual influence. Just as God does nothing in the earth without revealing it to His prophets (Amos 3:7), satan is not allowed to act in this dimension or "realm" without first making his plans known as he's been doing so thru the media. But again, many will brush this off as "hype," "paranoia," and "mythology," just as they did the forewarnings before 9/11 See this for more details: http://t.co/6aN9xFJGT6 Let the one with ears, hear.

      • s44

        Don't most people associate the name with the fish that fixes this problem?

        • http://twitter.com/domenuk Dominik

          yeah. babelfish ftw

        • mesmorino

          Not most people, just people who have read or know about the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy.

          • Matthew Fry

            Which would probably include 90% of the Google staff...

    • Guillermo González de Garibay

      Babel could refer to an ability to get Google Translate in the app, or something new with speak recognition

    • http://twitter.com/s99nj S. Ali


    • Pedro Rodriguez

      It could refer to the Babel fish from a guide to the galaxy.

    • Mr. S

      The problem is that none of my non-techie friends refer to it as Google Talk - instead they call it "gchat." I'd say that Google has failed at that branding attempt.

      • Matthew Fry

        I call it messenger or IM or "messaged you on gmail" certainly "I Talked you" is not going to happen. I agree that as far as branding goes, they've failed - but that opens up the possibility for a new messaging verb! Texted, IM'd, Tweeted, Facebooked, and now.... babelededeedoodaded (pronounced bay-bell-dee-doo-da-dead). Oxford Dictionary, here we come!

  • Serge

    In other news libjingle (a library used by Google Talk) was added recently to Google+ Messenger. There are also other references to Google Talk in the Messenger apk.

    • Danny Holyoake

      Whoa, source?

      • Serge

        Messenger apk. Grab the latest from your phone, uninstall updates and you'll get the previous one. On my Nexus 4 the previous is pretty fresh, just from February. It does not have libjingle. The latest has 8Mb libgcomm library which contains libjingle inside. I also noticed Google+ for iOS is huge 29Mb, but I don't have tools to break it apart.

        EDIT: I said "Messenger apk" when I actually meant "Google+ apk". The Messenger is inside of Google+ apk.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Interesting. I see that they added something called "libgcomm_jni.so" to G+ at some point since 4.2.2. What other Google Talk references are there?

      • Serge

        Inside classes.dex:


        libgcomm contains libjingle inside.

      • GazaIan

        We should be asking you that Ron >.>

        *Waits for APK Teardown*

  • ferdinand

    My top wanted features for android 5.0:

    1- unified messages and video chat. I would love a service like imessage between android phones

    2- update to gmail , music, calendar, and maps apps

    3- notifications on lock screen for those who lock their phones and want to know about the notifications without loggin in

    4- combining people and call

    5- more settings in the pulldown menu

    6- more features with the camera like timed pictures and fast camera ...

    and please display the battery percentage in the status bar :)

    • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

      Wrong discussion, I'd say - apart from the unified messaging app.

    • paradox460

      You know you can pull down the notification bar on the lock screen right?

      • Guest

        not if you have password or pattern lock no

      • http://cassidyjames.com Cassidy James

        Not when it's locked with something other than the slider. Though I suppose you can see what apps you have notifications from in the notification bar, and I'm not sure I'd like my notifications visible if my phone was locked.

        • Freak4Dell

          Exactly...that's on purpose, since Google assumes that if you have a stronger lock than the slider, you want things kept private. Letting you jump to notifications when you have that kind of lock would be counterproductive.

          • Justin Swanson

            Not if they handle it the same way lock screen widgets are. I.e.: let you pull it down, click and then get prompted for password/slider.

          • Freak4Dell

            I would have thought it would have more to do with actually displaying "private" information than letting you open it (which of course would be dumb). Can you use lockscreen widgets that show snippets of your emails and stuff, or only counts?

          • Justin Swanson

            Show snippets. You could make it a toggle in the security settings as well.

            "Show Snippets"
            "Allow Notification Bar Pull Down When Locked"... I don't know. probably would want it shorter.

    • Marcus Townsend

      #3 I think that's part of the use of lockscreen widgets. Admittedly they should've just implemented the solution they use when tapping on a lockscreen widget (tap a notification, and then the pattern or pin pops up for you to login), but oh well.

      #6 What do you mean "fast camera". Do you mean zero-shutter lag, because they introduced that with the Galaxy Nexus and it was god awful. Thankfully they removed it with the 4.1 update.

      The rest of those, YES PLEASE

      • http://twitter.com/xplodwild Guillaume

        #6 -- wh-what? How was ZSL awful? And it surely wasn't removed at all.

        • Marcus Townsend

          While Zero shutter lag was a slight improvement in the software, the majority of it was taking a picture the instant your finger tapped the shutter button, regardless of focus. As a result, the majority of shots were blurry making the already poor camera on the GN worse. With 4.1 they adjusted it so that it focuses first. If the shot's already in focus, you get the same effect. So yes, in several cases it may be just as fast, but it's much better now that it's not LITERALLY zero shutter lag.

  • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

    How come the original file is of smaller resolution than what you have in the article?
    (And no, it was not scaled because the one in the article is pretty sharp, no zoomed blurriness.)

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It looks like I somehow grabbed the URL to the thumbnail version, it should be fixed now.

      • http://twitter.com/IamPeePay Tomáš Petrík

        Yep, good now. Thanks

  • adi19956

    Love how Artem commented on it

  • Derp

    You do realize that taking a screenshot of the photoshopped image isn't exactly rocket science, right? I'm not saying it's necessarily fake, but your forensic shenanigans are kind of pointless in this case ;)

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      When looking into things like this, I want to include as much information about what I'm looking for as I can. Providing a more complete view is never a bad thing.

      • http://jbroderick.net/ mcbutterbuns

        Someone can easily use Chrome Developer Tools or Firebug to add text to the page and then take a screenshot so i doubt the screenshot would be edited afterwards (see attachment)

        Then you need to look at the content of the message. Does this sound like typical Google speak? To me it doesn't; it almost seems like the name "Babel" is a little forced. However, if they are in pre-release, then content strings like this may not be tidied up yet.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Yep, that's been pointed out a few times, and is a valid point. I think though that the corroboration of Gmail integration from the Chromium link above gives us more to consider than just the screenshot. To me, the message is not surprising. I don't have first hand knowledge of the work flow on something like this, but if it is something that's still in development, I would bet that copy for such alerts would not have been finalized yet.

  • adi19956

    Google's doing it on purpose

  • Mathew Knoell

    Don't care what it's called really. I just want it to work well.

  • Kompre

    I don't like Babel as a name for the service; it sounds so third party developer rather than the one Google service to rule them all.

  • pinchomoruno

    Babel? WTF? Babel(dot)com is a chat application!

  • http://www.facebook.com/evulhotdog Brian Davis

    Do you guys have any idea how easy it is to use a userscript or some type of addon such as firebug for firefox to change literally anything on a webpage to make it do or show what you want? I'd take this with many many grains of salt...

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Again, yes, the screenshot itself could be faked, but there is more evidence to suggest that even if it were faked, the information it contains is probably accurate.

  • http://twitter.com/deezil Daniel A. Williams

    Babel/Babble may just be the codename for what Talk 2.0 is going to be. Makes sense so the engineers behind the scenes aren't crossing the streams.

  • exa

    Knowing that google dev like H2G2: https://www.google.fr/search?q=the+answer+to+life+the+universe+and+everything
    Using the name Babel could refer to:
    That said I think that it would be a unified gtalk with live translation

  • Freak4Dell

    So stupid. I'm convinced there's a team of Googlers whose job is to come up with stupid names. Yes, I do hope the revamp of Talk has automatic translation, but one feature shouldn't dictate the name. Are they going to redo the UI of Maps and rename it Coffee because it can take you to coffee shops?

  • bhake

    For the love of ____, I hope they unify talk, messenger, and Google Voice. Google Voice needs to be implemented to offer a true unified android messaging experience, IMHO. Otherwise the bbm style clients will still be the preferred way to the masses.

  • aiden9

    I'm really hoping babel is just a code name but after "Play Store" I'm not hopeful. Google Talk or Google Voice would be fine(likely Talk because of the higher user base) for a unified name.

  • Kaotic Evil

    Haha!! Does NO ONE get the reference to the Babel Fish? Seriously??!!??

  • GazaIan

    Even as clear as the reference is, why name it Babel? To your average joe, that's odd in so many ways.

  • William Steele

    I've been getting that icon in my system tray when i open chrome on my winodws 8 pc. Hmm?

  • Ray

    Codename might be Babel - but I hope they come up with something better.

    Google Unity for example.

    I like it anyway!

  • David P.

    Being a 100% Google Voice convert, I hope this makes for a better SMS experience on Android. The GV app sucks for texting.

  • Chapi

    I don't know if the image is fake or not, but with firebug you can change the notification text to whatever you want and then take the screenshot.

  • Sabhe Sandhu

    what abt this rumor im reading that google is buying Whatsapp soon for $1 billion ????

  • Bryan Cantos

    Why not just stick with Google Hangouts? I mean i think it already has more of a brand recognition than Google Talk, its more catchy and also you know they can still heavily brand the video chat features.

  • didibus

    Google Chat, or Google Messenger, or Google Talk, or Gchat, or GMessage, but please not Google Babel

  • Axee7

    When looking into things like this, I want to include as much information about what I'm looking for as I can. Providing a more complete view is never a bad thing.
    anyways I just found an interesting news about the world's toughest smartphone Nokia Lumia


  • developer

    The author of this article is certainly not a developer - sure the screenshot is legitimate, but the text in the notification can easily be edited with dev tools like the chrome inspector..

    • developer

      with no photoshopping necessary !