Hangouts App Review (Android): Wanna Hang Sometime?

Google is by far my favorite mega corporation, they helped me do my homework, enjoy my smartphone, find new places and even make new friends. Hangouts is Google’s attempt at a personal messenger and it is slowly catching on. I personally use the app for work only; it has been this way since I first made my Gmail account many years ago. Yahoo is for social networks and Google is for work. Back then the Hangouts app was actually called Google Talk and it was a program on PC. And now the app is actually rivaling Facetime for iOS.

Despite being a good messenger, the Hangouts app is still struggling to catch on. It’s not because there are less features on the app, it’s because of the messenger fatigue people feel. There are just too many messengers out there which defeat the purpose of using another messaging service. Also countless people refuse to make a move to a new platform. I feel this is natural.


Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Google Play Rating: 3.9 out of 5 Stars

Download-on-Google-Play


The Good

Hangouts is a very good looking app. The interface alone makes it worth your time. The app is also very easy to use and understand; at least the basic functionality is explicitly implied. Another plus is that the app is made by Google so top notch security is ensured. Another great thing about Google is that they update their apps frequently and keep on building up the features and tuning up the security.

The Bad

Hangouts app is a good messenger but it struggles with giving everything, every time. For example you have to attach stickers in a chat like you do a picture. Sure they are preinstalled but adding them with the attachment button is counter-intuitive. I’m willing to bet not many people even know they exist. You can circumvent some of this by using an emoji app for Android but that is not a real solution. Another problem is that no one is there to chat. Out of 100 of my Facebook contacts only 2 people are actually online on Hangouts app. And only 6 use the app regularly from my Whatsapp contacts. The international calling requires another app to work, which should not be the case.


The Bottom Line

Hangouts is a competitive app which is held back by bad luck. Google arrived late to the party and is now struggling to keep up with already established messengers. The app itself is of top quality and provides some interesting features as well. One of the best things about the app is that it actually removes the need of installing a dedicated SMS app for Android on your smartphone. It doesn’t hurt to actually have the app on your smartphone though; it is light on the resources and a worthy replacement to any of the best chat apps for Android.


Easy Setup – 5 out of 5 Stars

Google has made it real easy to install and use the Hangouts app on your Android device. Simply locate the app on the Google Play Store and download it. Once it is downloaded and installed, boot the app up.

Hangouts App

Usually people signup with a Google account when they first start using their smartphone, so there won’t be any signups here. But for some reason you opted not to sign to a Google account, you will have to sign in by clicking on the Add Account button as shown in the screenshot below. After that you will be ready to roll.

Hangout app screenshot


Solid Interface – 4 out of 5 Stars

The main interface of the app can unmistakably be called clean. The main page of the app shows all the chats you did and with a tiny time stamp. The people you spoke with will be shown in little circle profile pictures which are also great for easy identification. Tap on an existing chat and you will be able to talk to the respective person. This is pretty elementary in terms of user interface design and I really like predictable interfaces. Sure there is no innovation here, but like I said, why to change something that works well already.

Hangouts App

 


Voice and View – 3 out of 5 Stars

The app comes with an easy to use voice chat feature. The voice quality is good but not as amazing as Skype. Check out in-depth but a little outdated comparison between Skype and Google Chat to gain a deeper insight. The voice quality as good at times but sometimes the calls would drop for no reason at all. I admit I have only used the voice chat for a collective of around 4 hours and the experience was serviceable.

Hangouts App

The video again is not that of a great deal but one thing I noticed is that it consumes less data than Skype. The video quality doesn’t suffer that much either despite Hangouts app using less data. So if you are budget conscious, this is a good replacement to your regular video chat app.

Related: 8 Android Apps to Make Free Video Call without Spending a Dime

Hangouts App


Feature Hide n Seek – 3 out of 5 Stars

Some of the features which should have been on the forefront are hidden behind unnecessary taps. As I mentioned the stickers are categorized as attachments which is odd.

Hangouts App

Another amazing feature regarding SMS integration is warded far off into the settings of the app. While a single pop up does appear asking you to merge your SMS with the app, but if you accidentally don’t allow it, you will need to dig deep to find that option again.

Handout app screenshot

If you are aiming to make some Voice over IP calls with the app, you will need to get another app for it. The other app is called the Hangouts Dialer and it uses your Wallet money to make cheap calls across the world. Most numbers, by numbers I mean any type of numbers are free in USA and Canada. Other countries are extremely cheap too. Here is the plugin type app which you will need:

Download-on-Google-Play

I find this really odd because this functionality is advertised on the Hangouts app page but requires a separate app to work. Not good Google not good.


Permissions – 4 out of 5 Stars

The Hangouts app can access all of your contacts, which is understandable. The app can cost you money if you use the SMS service, can access said messages which is fair considering it needs to do that. The app can know your location and send it and can access your email account. It seems all of these permissions are necessary and cannot be avoided. Although it does put you at risk but hey what can we do right?


Conclusion:

The Hangouts app is a competent messenger app which can further be improved in many ways. The main interface foundation is great but all the features need to be accessible easily. The app doesn’t tax the resources of your Android which is a huge plus in our books. All in all, I recommend that you keep this small messenger on your Android device in case you need it somewhere. We will soon be holding Hangout sessions for android queries and you will be able to talk to me directly, for that alone Hangouts is worth a download.

 

Comments (6)

  1. Phyllis LiBrandi Coppolino on

    I didn’t see any mention of a few things, such as being able to video chat with iPhone users. That was the main reason for me to start using Hangouts. Also, I had to install a Hangouts Dialer app in order to make calls. I did not find the interface very intuitive at all. In fact, I thought it was confusing just getting started by inviting people, knowing what to press first to make the video call, and figuring out how to hang up. It was all trial and error. I’ve only used it a couple of times, but both times I could not hear the other person at the beginning of the chat, even though we could see each other. And with the second chat, I could only see my avatar, not my face. Do you know if there’s a way to save a video chat? And, if so, can it be done after you hang up?

    • Dani on

      Sorry to hear about the problems you faced. Like I stated the voice was a bit shaky but oddly enough the video was quite good. I chatted with a friend using an iPad Air and it went smoothly. May I ask what device are you using? The browser based hangouts is utterly useless for voice and video. Also you pointed out a very valid point man. I somehow missed that during testing, the article is updated with new information about the dialer app πŸ™‚ thanks for keeping an eagle eye! Much appreciated.

      • Phyllis LiBrandi Coppolino on

        I’m using a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S3, 4.3.

        Do you know if there’s a way to save a video chat? And, if so, can it be done after you hang up?

        Thanks.

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