Google Hangouts replaces Talk; adds one more person for video chat, but what’s so great?

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When Babel first got it rumours out and about in the Internet, there was a few services by Google that was doomed – Google+ Hangout and also Google Talk. Babel was a hot topic before it came out, but the heat seem to have cooled down now since that everyone can get their hands on it and try it for themselves. However there is one question – how does it fare against its competitors?

For me, Hangouts is the direct answer to cross-platform online instant messaging service, or should I say the BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp, LINE and ChatON field. Isn’t that what Google Talk is for? Yes – it was. The new Hangouts is made to replace Google Talk and does more than what Talk did, by integrating Google+ Hangout into it. Of course it seems gimmicky by integrating two services into one and added an “s” at the back of Hangout to make it completely “new”.

Looking into it, Hangouts is supported over 3 major platforms – your computer, Android and Apple. As Google’ always likes it, they kept it simple by making everything work with the least hassle :

  • Computer gets to run Hangouts on Gmail itself – like Google Talk did
  • Android and iOS needs to download an app
  • Chrome browser can download a new extension to run Hangouts on desktop

Mobile version
Since I have a Nexus 4, why not try it? I’m running on Paranoid Android on Phablet UI, so I even get to see the magnificent tablet UI on my phone.

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An amazing interface where I can really tell who is seeing, who is online and who read the messages – even the their progress to which message they have seen.

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What’s an instant messenger these days if you can’t send out pictures right? The new interface lets you see your picture while you type your caption for it, much like what Facebook’s Messenger offers.

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Google+ had their own theme of emoticons already, so why not Hangouts? With Emoji integrated into it, there are more than a few hundred of emoticons of your liking to be chosen from.

Computer version
Firstly as the topic of this post said, you can now have a video chat with up to 10 friends. I found this out on their Gmail version, which I am going to talk about first.

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Nothing much to say here actually – it’s same as Google Talk on Gmail as before, just a slight facelift on the interface and changed the logo.

On the Chrome version however, things are different. It works like the Facebook’s desktop version for Messenger, but it looks entirely different.

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The contact list and messages pops up just like how the Facebook’s chat on its website does – everything is biased on the bottom right corner, though Hangouts gives you an option to minimize the entire popup to a seamless pixel bar, then peeks out as you hover your mouse over, and pops out when you click on it.

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Being able to be so subtle is a plus for Google, with its new notification syncing – which means your notification muting works across all devices together. Getting people to chat is dead simple, you can select a few contacts, or the entire circle, then start by engaging a message or jump straight to a video chat.

A few of the options given across all platforms are snoozing notifications for some periods of time, block people and check out who requested a Hangout with you.

Being a mobile instant messenger itself, it integrates the best of Skype and WhatsApp together in a seamless way, yet it works across all 3 major platforms. Amazingly, it doesn’t show any signs of delay or lag. The response between devices and their servers work seamlessly and quick – almost instant!

But then again – what is the future of Hangouts? I think that this might very well be the real threat to WhatsApp. Hangouts is totally free – all you need is a Google+ account set up, whereas WhatsApp requires a $0.99 fee after the first 9 months of usage.

I do think that Google will finally get the chance to compete among the giants of mobile instant messaging as Talk was rubbish.

What do you think about Google Hangouts? Liking it? Encountered troubles? Let us know!

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