Google’s app for video chat and messaging
Google Hangouts is a free video chat and messaging app for iOS, Android, and your preferred desktop browser. You can join and host video conferences with up to ten contacts simultaneously, send messages to contacts (even if they’re offline), and enjoy a variety of stickers, GIFS, photo sharing, and emoji.
You can start up conversations and stay in touch without the hassle.
Smooth, synchronized chat from anywhere
Part of the mighty Google workspace, Hangouts is their go-to app for chatting, messaging, and taking part in video calls. The app works as an extension for most browsers and is 100% cross-platform compatible. That means that even if you’re using the program on your Android mobile device, you can still meet participants who are using Android, iOS, or desktop.
You can also use Hangouts to sync chats across all your devices. You can share photos and videos, look over your call history, and keep a record of any of your correspondences. Then, with a single tap, you can turn the conversation into a video call.
Group chats can comprise up to 150 people, all of whom can type messages, embed photos, emoji, stickers, and animated GIFs. You can engage in video calls with up to 10 friends. You can call any phone number in the world (calls to other Hangouts users are free) and optionally connect your Google Voice account for a phone number, SMS, and voicemail integration. You can even remotely manage the app through Google Cloud.
In 2016, Google upgraded Hangouts to 25 concurrent users in HD video for work and education. The new Google Hangouts app on iOS integrates a Google Voice number to some extent, but on Android, the SMS support in Hangouts doesn't fully integrate with Google Voice for calls or texts. Integration was deprecated in January 2016.
In Android 4.4, Hangouts is integrated with the default SMS app on the Nexus 5. For other Android phones, users can choose to open the SMS function when they download the new version of Hangouts via Google Play. The update also adds GIF support and a new location-sharing button, which lets users send their GPS location to their contacts.
Hangouts can turn conversations into free voice calls to other Hangouts users and charges users to call landline and mobile phones internationally - except for calls to the United States and Canada; that’s free. Android users must have both the Google Hangouts and Hangouts Dialer apps installed if they wish to call landline or mobile telephone numbers via the public-switched telephone network.
Is Google Hangouts safe?
Google will collect personally identifiable information such as the user’s name, location, email address, age, or identification number. Any authentication information like passwords, credentials, security question, or a PIN will be kept (as you probably expect), along with a record of personal communications (emails, text or chat messages, social media posts, or conference calls). This information being logged and kept is hardly a surprise, however; it’s intrinsic to the program.
Google Hangouts vs Zoom
Google Hangouts capitalizes on easy integration with the rest of the Google ecosystem, and a smooth, familiar UI that streamlines the process of getting online and connected either at home or on the go. There are other video conferencing and messaging apps on the market; however, namely Skype, WhatsApp, and Zoom.
Skype is a dinosaur of an app when compared to Hangouts. Though Hangouts is part of the age-old Google, Skype came out 10 years earlier. Many of the issues users had with Skype (resource-heavy, intrusive pop-ups, and jittery video) Google ironed out so as to provide a better option. WhatsApp, while accessible via a browser, does not have a standalone client on desktop.
The main competitor for Hangouts is Zoom, another downloadable desktop or mobile app that lets users chat and meet for free. Zoom can go from uninstalled to up and running in mere minutes. It boasts a clean UI, easy direct video, and a litany of customizable options for audio, accessibility, security, and more.
There are some key factors that will influence your decision of whether to use Zoom or Hangouts, primarily security, video quality, and, of course, whether you want Google integration. While integration with Google may be a plus, if you’re prone to issues with their ecosystem, Zoom is the better choice.
As far as security is concerned, Zoom does not require meeting attendants to create an account. The host can create the initial link, which is accessible by anyone with an internet browser. While this makes for convenient link sharing so that people can join the meeting, that means Zoom can’t guarantee end-to-end encryption in transit. By comparison, a Hangouts video call URL can also be created, but anyone joining through it will still need a Google account to enter.
Both Zoom and Hangouts support HD video quality, but not all HD is made the same. In most cases, Zoom has the upper hand with a 1080p max video resolution. Hangouts does fall somewhat behind at a stable 720p. While 720p is far from low-quality, Zoom remains the winner here. Zoom recommends a 3.8Mbps connection for its highest quality video offering. Hangouts requires 3.2Mbps (or 4Mbps for up to 10 participants).
Communication made free and simple
Google Hangouts is a comfortable app for video and chat that grants quick access to anyone you want to keep in contact with, across multiple platforms and on multiple devices. It may lack in complexity when compared to other programs, but the interface is easy to navigate, and the app performs well. It’s incorporation with the Google workspace makes it a convenient, top-notch choice for communication.