Google was still apologising for Monday's Gmail outage, when Google+ Hangout and Talk users began reporting issues with messages intended for one person going to multiple parties. All this after a huge raft of updates across the company's products, coincidence or the perils of updates?
The Peril of the Update (Or Just A Glitch)?
Google's Chrome browser had a major update this week, and all seems well with that. The company also announced changes with changes to search encryption and the arrival of Google+ comments on YouTube. Perhaps that took some of the focus off its Gmail troubles at the start of the week. However, we don't remember reading about any massive tweaks to Google+ itself, which is the cause of the latest grumblings from users.
Back on Monday, Gmail messages were delayed or for some users and the company has since apologised (via the Gmail blog) for the outage, blaming a rare instance of a dual network failure for the issue. That event delayed messages and left attachments hanging in the wind for some, with a tiny percentage of mails delayed for a couple of hours. Given the size of Gmail, that could still be quite a large number.
Which brings us to today's issues with Google Talk and Hangouts. Twitter saw plenty of posts from concerned users reporting the problem and panicking about which unintended recipients were seeing their posts. Google acknowledged the issue, which it records as starting around 4:30AM EST on its status page. A fix was rolled out around lunchtime, but they are still investigating, with service likely to be restored gradually.
Bugs, Errors and So Many Problems
All of this activity highlights the occasional perils of complex systems, offering free services for millions of users. That and the echo chamber of social media can make the slightest issue look like the sky is falling down, not just for Google but any social media site, cloud service and so on.
Which makes us wonder when the first outbreak of panic of Apple's iOS 7 auto-app-update service will take hold. Sure, this can be disabled, but who else hates seeing that little red number build up on the App Store icon? It will take only one corrupted or borked update to bring a major app down and the world will be in brief, but voluble, turmoil.
Any major outage provides a fun water cooler moment for most, bitching on other channels, as affected users look for quick workarounds or alternate services. Will millions of users abandon Gmail or Google+ due to this? Unlikely, but as these outages or issues become more pronounced, and we rely more on the services, things may come to a messy end, if an company can't restore service fast enough.