In a time of obsessive focus on everything mobile, makers of instant messaging applications seem to have forgotten about one key element that was once essential to any messaging platform’s success: universality.
- Free phone calls to US and Canadian phone numbers through Hangouts Dialer.
- Threaded group chats in Google Chat enable far greater collaboration for teams.
- Seamless integration with other Google services and cloud storage.
- Additional features for G Suite subscribers include dial-in numbers for conference calls and larger high definition group chats.
- Conveniently combines your phonebook contacts with your Gmail and Google+ contacts.
- Is available on devices and platforms while seamlessly synching your conversations across them.
- Lightweight and extremely resistant to crashes and technical errors.
- Good integration with other Google services like Docs and Calendar.
- The overall experience is riddled with key features and services being separated into different sites or applications, making the whole product less intuitive.
- Lacking stand-alone clients for computers, the stability, and security of the web clients is always tied to that of the web browsers being used.
- Group chats are ultimately limited to 150 participants, limiting some potential use cases.
Google Hangouts’ availability on multiple platforms is one of its key strengths. Its main app for Android and its dedicated site don’t offer anything to wow you right away. They come with clean designs and almost never crash or lag in my experience. They offer the standard voice and video calling features and sharing options, including the best location sharing experience I’ve had to date. So far, they only stand out by bringing your email contacts into your typical instant messaging application automatically. However, if get the Hangouts Dialer app, or go into the dialer calls sections in the web applet, and you’ll be able to make free phone calls to phone numbers in the US and Canada. Things might get confusing, but in addition to the main app and the dialer app, there are two more Hangouts apps from Google if you’re on Android, and an additional site if you’re on the web. The Chat and Meet parts of the Hangouts experience are what sets Google Hangouts apart from the heaps of IM apps available today. The main appeal for Chat to me is the threaded chats. As a veteran internet user from the times of Newsgroups, bulletin board forums and having discussions over email, being able to reply to a specific message is a game changer when it comes to large group chats. Add to this the seamless integration with Google Docs and you have yourself a must-have collaboration messaging platform that runs on any Smartphone or computer with a web browser. Google Meet, on the other hand, is more useful when you have a G Suite subscription. With it, you can have high definition video conferences with up to 30 people simultaneously. These meetings can be integrated into Google Calendar and be given a dedicated number so that members can dial to join. All in all, Google Hangouts is very powerful and undoubtedly useful. It’s only limited by a lack of organization and unification. Otherwise, I’d probably say it’s the best of the available massaging services, especially for professional settings.