Google recently announced the new version of Google+ Hangouts, replacing the chat in Gmail as well as Google Talk on Android. Hangouts is a standalone messenger on iOS and has a Chrome extension (which works with the Chrome browser closed). My friends and I have moved from using the G+ messenger to Hangouts and it has been just as fun and functional and we don’t even utilize everything about it.
Hangouts can be used on your phone (iOS or Android), your tablet (iOS or Android), or on your computer (the Chrome extension or in Gmail). You can begin a conversation on one device, pick it up on another, and so forth. The conversation history stays synced (for the most part), so you never really miss anything. You can chat one-on-one or in a group (I’m doing both). You can send photos (works great) and video chat (I haven’t tried that yet).
My friends and I tried it as soon as we all had the application loaded on our phones and it has worked great for us. Sometimes we’re not all online at the same time but we still send out messages because we know they will be eventually read. It’s more immediate than email but not as demanding as SMS. Being able to access the chats across different platforms is a huge plus. The G+ messenger was mobile only, Gmail chat was browser only, and Google Talk was Android only. Hangouts combines all of that and throws in MMS capabilities and video chatting. How can you not like that?
You don’t need someone’s phone number if you’ve got their Google name because you can send a message or photo through Hangouts. No video yet though but for me it’s rare to send or receive videos via MMS, so no loss to me.
I have yet to use the videocall feature and truth be told, I rarely videochat. When I do, I use FaceTime. But with Hangouts, you’re not beholden to one OS. You can use your phone (iOS or Android) or your tablet or your computer.
You could argue (and probably successfully) that other services do the above just as well or better. And you would be right but do any of them combine the different facets of communication as effectively? The best part of using Hangouts, to me, is the fact that I can use it on my computer, through my browser if necessary (without the Chrome extension). As long as I have an internet connection, I am always connected and in touch.
In the future, there’s talk of integration with Google Voice, which would just rock even more. Imagine making actual phone calls through Hangouts.
Disclaimer: My husband calls me a Google girl (in spite of my iPhone) and I gladly embrace nomenclature. I love Gmail and Google Drive and keep hoping more people I know will use Google+. Hangouts is my new Google love, so get to it!
Learn more about Google+ Hangouts here.