Google Hangouts: Manage All Your Messages in One App22,839
A smartphone with a mobile data connection has already become a common thing for many people. Having mobile Internet on the go means that smartphone users can stay in touch with their families and friends without having to pay for calls or text messages. To be able to do that, they have to install special apps called messengers. There are currently a lot of messengers available for iOS and Android phones, and Google Hangouts is one of the most popular options on the market.
The developers from Google obviously decided to create a very powerful messenger and included a lot of functions into the Hangouts app. If you communicate over your smartphone a lot, you’ll definitely want to try Hangouts. Not only can you send messages inside the app itself, but you also have the possibility to send and receive text messages straight from Hangouts. The best part is that your text messages will be free of charge as long as you’re connected to the Internet.
If you have a lot of friends, you can create a group chat for up to 150 people to make sure that all of you stay in touch and promptly receive the latest updates from one another. Hangouts can also be used to connect with your colleagues because it is a free and effective way of instantly conveying information to many people. What’s more, you’re not limited to sending just text, as you can add pictures, videos, stickers, and Emoji to your messages. You can even show your friends or colleagues where to go by attaching a map to your message.
If you use Google Voice a lot, you’ll be pleased to know that it has already been incorporated into Hangouts for you. However, you’ll have to install an additional app called Hangouts Dialer to get full functionality for your VoIP calls through the Hangouts application. You’ll still be able to make voice calls even without installing Hangouts Dialer, but your Google Voice number will most likely remain unidentified by the receiving device. The person you call will see something like “No caller ID” on their phone, so if you don’t want to stay incognito, you’ll have to install the Dialer.
You can use Hangouts with multiple Google accounts, which may turn out to be a handy feature. Switching between the accounts is fairly easy and can be done by using the right-hand rule. However, if you have a big contacts list and communicate with more than several people at the same time, be prepared for some confusion because with multiple accounts it is really hard to make sense of all the messaging that takes place in Hangouts. Technically, Hangouts offers the possibility to switch between different Google Voice numbers when answering a message, but it is rather difficult to find this feature in the interface, so you’re probably better off with a single account.
You can also make live video calls with Hangouts. The service works pretty decently, and you’re unlikely to experience any problems with the audio, although the video might freeze from time to time. If you have a Google+ account, you can add up to nine more people to create a video conference, but you can only make person-to-person calls with a regular account.
The Hangouts app has an interface that is quite pleasant to look at and use. You’ll be able to switch between three tabs (all your conversations, whether they include text or Hangouts messages, your contacts list, and a dial pad). The app’s main color is green, which looks fairly attractive combined with the white background. However, some functions, like the abovementioned switching between mobile numbers, can be tricky to find. And, you may find yourself missing particular control gestures which have become almost standard by now (swipe a thread to delete it, for instance).
Here’s where you may run into some problems with the Hangouts mobile messenger. Admittedly, it offers a lot of functionality and it has a modern attractive design, but it is also really complicated if you talk to a lot of people simultaneously. In fact, the Hangouts app combines four functions at once: sending and receiving in-app messages and text messages, VoIP calls, and video calls. Combining the communication services from Google and improving them for the benefit of users may appear to be a great idea, but in reality, managing all four aspects of your online communication in one app is a fairly difficult task. Unless your contacts list is well organized, you might get lost in the massive amount of messages that come to your phone number, your Google Voice number, your other IM services, and the Hangouts app itself. If you have a neat contacts list, all messages from one user will appear in a single thread even if they were sent using different services, which makes managing your conversations a lot easier. Still, Hangouts can get really confusing at times, so it doesn’t get the top score for usability.
Cross-Platform Use 9/10
You can download Hangouts app for free from Play Market or App Store for your mobile device or you can get it as a Google Chrome app for your Windows PC or Mac. However, Hangouts requires your device to run at least Android 4.0, which means that you won’t be able to install Hangouts on the majority of older Android devices. The messenger from Google is also unavailable for devices running on Windows Phone/Mobile OS.
Google Hangouts call app is free, and so are all of its functions. You won’t need to make any additional in-app purchases, although a Google+ account might add to the messenger’s functionality.
Google Hangouts is a great app for Android users who have well-organized contacts. It offers a lot of functions for free, and all of them work properly. It’s a free app, so you can try it and simply uninstall it in case you don’t like it or don’t need the extended functionality.
Pros : An all-in-one messenger;
Free calls to most US and Canada numbers;
Integrates messages sent by one user through different services in one thread;
Available for free on major platforms.
Cons : Can be too complicated;
No group video conferences for regular users.
Cross-platform use 4.5