When Google revealed Hangouts, I thought it was in many ways a step backwards, especially when compared to the very simple G-Talk app. Google took away many beloved G-Talk features, while it even broke compatibility with G-Talk for a few days, and you couldn't talk to friends unless they also had Hangouts installed. They later fixed that, but there are still a lot of issues that need to be ironed out, including adding Voice functionality (for US users, at least).
Google is now confirming that Hangouts will basically replace Google Voice in the future:
Today's version of Hangouts doesn't yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail.
Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly.
Google has also hinted that SMS integration is coming to Hangouts, so it does seem like things will improve in the future, and Google may be able to offer us the "integrated chat experience" we want. However, it's strange that Google had to do such a poor launch of the Hangouts first, since the service was clearly not ready, and it ended up upsetting many people.
They should've waited until it was totally ready or at least preview the upcoming features, to keep everyone happy. Since they didn't do that, it's evident that Google is not nearly far enough in the development process in regards to those features, to be able to show off some previews of them. This means we could be waiting until the end of the year, if not longer, until Voice and SMS integration are implemented in the Hangouts app.
Now that you've had some time with Hangouts, what do you think of the service? Are you happy with it or disappointed? Are you patiently waiting the voice calling and SMS features or have you moved on to something else in the meantime?
[Via Nikhyl Singhal]