Google Hangouts is a fun way to get together with your friends, chat and exchange ideas. Google advertises Hangouts as a fun way to enliven your conversations with video, emoji, photos, and more. What’s more, it’s free. While Hangouts is quite similar to most other messaging platforms like Yahoo’s and Facebook’s Messengers, as well as Skype, most people don’t know how to get the most out of the platform.
What is Google Hangouts?
Like other messaging platforms, Hangouts lets you hold conversations with friends anywhere on the planet. The platform can be reached through the Google site or by using the Chrome browser. There are also apps for both Android and iOS users available in their respective platform’s online stores. Like most other messaging platforms, users can talk one on one or in groups.
Unlike most other messaging platforms, however, Google Hangouts allows you to have group conversations with voice and video. In other words, it allows group videoconferencing, something that has normally been reserved for business-class applications. Want to talk to all your kids/family at the same time? No problem. Simply schedule a time with them and select them all (up to 15 at a time) to enter a video conversation. Everyone’s image will pop up in their own little video window and everyone will be able to see and interact with each other.
Make New Friends Using Google Hangouts
Most messaging platforms allow you to connect with people you already know and people you don’t know yet. Google makes the old Irish saying, “There are no strangers here — only friends we haven’t met yet,” come to life. Curious about the plans in the works from your favorite artist? Chances are they have a presence in Google Hangouts and, while you may not get to talk with them directly, their publicists will be glad to give you behind the scenes info as well as upcoming scheduling info. That’s something that most other platforms can’t do.
Google Hangouts Allows “Real” Phone Calls
Skype is the only other messaging platform I know of that has this feature. What happens when you o go online to talk to someone and really need to speak with them immediately, but they’re not online? Leave them a message, right? Wrong! With Google Hangouts you can immediately make a phone call to that person directly from the platform, without having to use your minutes or leave your computer. Unfortunately, although it really isn’t difficult to do, they haven’t enabled the ability to send SMS messages from the platform the way Skype has.
No Google+ Account Required
Quite recently the company made a fairly surprising announcement regarding Hangouts. This announcement was that anyone with a Google Apps account will be able to use the service. Up until recently, Hangouts was reserved for those of us with Google+ accounts. This means that your team can collaborate using Google Apps and video conference together using Hangouts.
During the first part of August of this year, Google also updated the web version of Google Voice so that users can make calls. This means that as long as you have a Gmail account, you can use the platform to make phone calls. You do this simply by typing the phone number you wish to call right into the Hangouts interface. Even better, you can also conference call several phones from Hangouts at once. Obviously, you have to dial/type each number and connect individually, but you can have 10-15 different calls going at once when they all connect.
If you have a Google email address, you’re already set to go with Hangouts. Load your email, and look at the bottom left. That’s your Hangouts starting area/launch pad. From here you can create a new Hangout, tag people to pull into a Hangout/conversation, or search for people to hangout with.
Hangouts to Receive Enterprise-Level Support
This is big. In my opinion, it’s really big. Software companies like Google and Microsoft make more money off their enterprise solutions than they do their consumer products. What this used to mean is that consumer products received a much lower level of support. Not anymore. Google Hangouts users will now be able to get phone support 24/7. The company is also putting plans and solutions in place to enable 99.9-percent uptime. This should mean no more dropped calls and much higher voice and video call quality than before.
Keep the Conversation Going Even Across Multiple Devices
The desktop application for Skype has allowed users to review older conversations for quite some time. However, unless I’m not trying correctly, which is possible, this isn’t possible when you jump from the desktop to the mobile platform.
Google has integrated Google Hangouts so tightly with their systems that you can do this across platforms quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going from a mobile platform (Android or iOS) to a desktop, or the desktop to a mobile platform. Keeping up on your conversations is quick and easy. Scrolling through the history of the conversation is just as easy.