Android Police is reporting that Google is looking to revamp its in-app help offering, by actually moving it to within the app.
Most Google apps currently link out to a page on support.google.com to provide users with assistance. It can be confusing for users to be removed from their app and sent to Chrome (or whatever browser is installed) to receive help.
It seems that Google is now looking to provide help within the context of the app, with the discovery of several strings in updates to the YouTube and Wallet apps seemingly pointing at replicating functionality that’s currently provided on the support website. These include “Call support”, “Request a call” and even “Your message was received. Thanks for contacting Google!”. Additional information provided to Android Police points to this functionality using Google Play Services.
A good help infrastructure can’t be underestimated. If you can deflect even a small percentage of support requests then it’s a massive benefit to a company at Google’s scale, and there’s an industry in writing technical support documentation.
We’re also pretty sure that Google has noticed Amazon‘s well-received Mayday service, which connects users with a customer support representative by video call. Google has also made its own moves in that direction with their Hangouts-based Helpouts service, although it’s not currently used to support Google’s own services.
There’s two items of interest here that I’d like to see developed over the coming months.
Firstly – a better help system in Google’s own apps. Let’s not beat about the bush here, while Google’s support systems are getting better there’s still plenty of room for improvement. If they nail the user experience for help then it’ll be a great benefit for users who don’t know their way around an app or need to ask a question of customer service.
Secondly – and of more interest to me – if Google’s moving this infrastructure into Google Play Services, perhaps they’ll look to open it up to thirdparty developers as well? A unified, robust help infrastructure that works across the entire platform would be far more useful than one that only works with Google’s own apps, and users could have confidence that the little Help button would operate in a consistent way no matter the app. For bonus points, make it a cross-platform tool.
What do you think of Google’s current app help offerings? Will this address any of your concerns? Tell us in the comments!