"Chrome extention for chatting"
Google Hangouts was a well-known cross-platform instant messaging service developed by Google. Initially, it was a feature of Google+, but later in 2013 it became a standalone product. Google then started integrating features from Google+ Messenger and Google Talk into Hangouts, as well as integrating features of Google Voice into it. The company stated that Hangouts was designed to be "the future" of Voice.
However, in 2017 Google began developing two separate enterprise communication products, Google Meet and Google Chat, as a part of its Google Workspace office suite. This led to the transition of Workspace users from Hangouts to Meet and Chat in June 2020, and subsequently Gmail users transitioned from Hangouts to Meet and Chat during 2021. Eventually, Google Hangouts was discontinued on November 1, 2022. Overall, while Google Hangouts was a popular communication platform, the transition to Meet and Chat in Google Workspace was a logical step for Google in terms of enterprise communication.
Winner of Best Messaging Tool in 2017.
Our old review
Google Hangouts has recently replaced the Google Talk app. The new and improved replacing the old and efficient, some would say. There was a useful Google system tray app that logged into Google Talk and could provide desktop notifications about new email. Google emailed participants to remind them that the Google Talk service was no more. So away went the useful email checker for Gmail…
With Google Talk, the user could make themselves invisible. With Google Hangouts, this writer seems to get interrupted more often than not from random people from India who wish to interrupt his day but seemingly without a reason for doing so. Not being able to go invisible or remove them seems to be a major negative to Google Talk presently. Users who have been forced to use Google Talk within Gmail lament the loss of Google Talk where they could go incognito with the chat client. Alas…
So that's the inconvenience with Hangouts… but what's the real deal with Hangouts?
Hangouts is more integrated so friends can be contacted via chat, SMS, MMS, voice call, video chat, and more. There is free group calls for up to 10 people. For American users of Hangouts, their Google Voice account can be connected up to Hangouts to integrate phone number, SMS and voicemail in one (Google Voice is presently only available in the USA). Calls to other Hangouts users through Hangout is free (like with Skype).
Hangout has apps across a number of different platforms. Windows is covered, of course via a Chrome app which can run on pretty much any platform that the Chrome browser can run. There are iOS and Android apps, and also a way to connect online. Chats will sync across devices so you'll never miss a message. If you happen to really be offline (is there such a thing anymore?) then the messages will wait for you and update across all devices when one of devices goes back online.
The usual fun can be had with text chats that can include emoji, animated GIFs, stickers, photos and maps to help find a meeting place.
The main way to access Google Hangouts on a Windows PC is either on the web or via a Google Chrome extension. The extension is available from the Chrome store.
The interface is pretty simple to use. It can be used within the Chrome browser. Gmail is also equipped with Hangouts, unless you log out of it, when going through email.
The experience of using Hangouts largely depends on your web connection. If you have a slow connection or it cuts in and out then you would have been better off with Google Talk which held the account open under such circumstances. In the case of Hangouts with Gmail, the connection is lost on slower connections more often than it is kept which can make using Hangouts a frustrating experience. The Chrome app and mobile apps can sometimes perform better.
- Free video calls to other Hangout users
- Access Google contacts all in one place
- Send text chat messages, SMS and MMS messages
- Free group video call with up to 10 users
- Disconnects too often
- Not easy to find out how to be invisible so you are not disturbed
- Google Talk discontinued even though it worked better for people with slower internet connections
- PC client only works through Chrome as a Chrome application
Skype is still a viable alternative with free video chats and calling credit which enables phone calls to any landline or mobile phone in the world. And it won't keep disconnecting on you.
Hangouts for Windows has been forced on users by the closure of Google Talk. You don't have to use the video and texting communication platform but as anyone who has a Google account also has a Hangouts account now, eventually you'll probably end up using the app.