Google finally unveiled Hangouts, which we now know is the official name. It's quite a bit different than the previously rumored "Babel," but that's okay. Hangouts just seems to fit much better.
Hangouts will roll out today, replacing both Google Talk and Google+ Messenger. That's great news if you use either of those services, because we all know how much a multi-platform messaging service was needed. Currently, Google Hangouts does not support SMS but it will be eventually implemented.
All of this information is great, but just what is Hangouts? What can you do with the new messaging service, and what does it mean for Android users?
It's Cross Platform
With Hangouts, you don't have to worry about who's on what device where. It works via desktop, iOS and Android. All users can chat with each other regardless of their active platform. That means, now you can talk to your significant other via Hangouts even if they have an iPhone (that dastardly Apple).
Obviously, one of the biggest features of any chat service is knowing exactly when you can connect to contacts, friends and family. If they're not around, then there's no use chatting them up, right? In Hangouts you'll be able to see everything you need to like who is participating in a Hangout call, if they're typing or even if they've read any messages that you sent along.
Thanks to Google+ Circles you can also select entire groups to chat with at one time. This makes it easier to chat with a group of friends, and really have a good Hangout, hence the name.
Hangouts will specifically deliver your message to the device that any friends are using, whether that be mobile, desktop or tablet. If you're offline when someone sends a message, you'll get them as soon as you sign in just like Facebook Messenger. Hangouts will also send out a simple email that someone has started a new conversation with you. Better yet, notifications won't trigger multiple times across various platforms which is great news. Seriously, who wants to receive the same notification via desktop and mobile simultaneously. I know I definitely don't want to dismiss the same notification twice, it's redundant. You can also turn off notifications completely if say, you're catching up on some beauty sleep and don't want to be pestered.
Of course, we all knew that simple text messages would be supported but what about the good stuff? Hangouts can handle photo sharing, and it works in a unique way too. Any photos shared are automatically added to an album on Google+, users can then view the album, share and interact with it appropriately. You can also return to previous photo sharing directly in a Hangouts chat at a later time. This is great if you send off a photo and need access to it again later.
Hangouts also features over 850 emoji and various sound effects and features.
Thanks to video chat support, up to ten users can connect and talk face to face at once. Just like Google Hangout (not to be confused with Hangouts plural) you will see whoever is talking in a larger window while everyone else in the chat is minimized at the bottom. You can also add effects on the fly, like throwing a pirate hat on your friends for some goofy fun.
The most obvious missing feature is SMS support, but that will probably come later. I mean, you can't have a universal app that doesn't support standard SMS. How else are you going to tell your Mom to hop on Hangouts when she's not using it? Okay, so maybe you can send a standard text, but that's no fun.
Also missing is voice messaging and VOIP calling support. Hopefully, Google will add some similar features in the future. Sure, you can always start up a video chat session but VOIP enables you to chat voice to voice when you can't chat via a video feed.
Also, coming in the future is the Hangouts On Air broadcasting directly to YouTube. We know that's coming later though, although we don't know when.
Words are Great, but...
Words are great but wouldn't you rather see Hangouts in action? Check out the video below to see what Google's new universal messaging service can do, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!
If you want to know more, you can always visit Google's new Hangouts page. Get the app for yourself by following the Google Play widget below!