FP StaffMay 16, 2013 12:50:40 IST
So Google has really upped the ante on Hangouts. It has launched a separate app for the chat feature, which is being packaged as a new unified, cross-platform messaging service for iOS, Android and Chrome. Very, very cool. It will be available for download from today and you might notice that Hangouts has replaced Google Talk on your Android phones.
The UI of Hangouts is a list of conversations, not contacts. Contacts are one tap away. It combines videos and Google Voice calls and you can also share photos on chat.
This means Hangout will now be competing with messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber and yes the newly launched cross platform BlackBerry Messenger.
Way to steal BlackBerry's thunder, Google.
Major features include Presence, or knowing when friends are available to chat. You can see when friends are on Hangouts, if they're typing, and if they've seen your messages. Using Google+ Circles, you can select specific friends or a whole group to start a chat with.
You also have the option to delete conversations, or save them.
Google in a blog post, also explained Gmail integration:
"What does this mean for your Gmail? You now have the option to switch from the current version of chat to Hangouts. Simply click "Try it out" next to your chat list to switch to Hangouts and give your chat an instant facelift (literally!). You'll now see the profile photos in the order of your most recent conversations. With Hangouts, you'll also be able to quickly send messages, have video calls with up to ten people at once, and share photos. You can start a conversation with just one friend or even a whole group."
However as TechCrunch points out, "the biggest feature missing from Hangouts is the ability to send andreceiveSMS messages to and from friends who don't have a Hangouts app installed. This means Hangouts isn't truly universal."
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