Fancy Hanging Out?

Friends ‘hangout’ in coffee houses don’t they?

And when I was growing up I loved to ‘hangout’ in the local park, at a friend’s house, or in the bus shelter. Put the word Hangout into Google now and what comes out? ‘A place to bring conversations to life with photos and video calls.’ It’s tantamount to cyber socialising and suggests a future where people just stop going out and instead sit behind their computer screens ‘hanging out’ with virtual companions, touching screens and not hands.

Scepticism and drama aside Google has done well to be able to leverage its place at the centre of our personal productivity with this particular USP.

The Hangout has already evolved form a mere place to talk in to a video conferencing commodity.

Video Conferencing.

Reports show that places like Skype and Google Hangouts are taking their own share of this video market. Google are looking to win it in the long-term and who’s to say they won’t. After all it’s really fairly easy and convenient.

After all, who needs high-end video conferencing? You just need someone at the end of the screen. And what I love about it is that with one click you can add a video conference to a calendar invitation.

There are constant improvements going on as well. Just this week Google released the latest update to Hangouts for Android, the company’s official text, voice, and video messaging app for Google+ users. Hangouts 2.1 for Android, and has already started rolling out on Google Play.

Striving For Better.

Those who are already familiar with Hangouts will find well-merged conversations, a simplified contact list, a home screen widget, and some performance improvements.

The big news, however, is merged conversations that combines SMS and Hangout conversations with the same recipient. Users can choose to send a message via Hangouts or SMS just by flipping a switch on the app.

Google has also made it easy for users to tell between SMS and Hangout messages – green for Hangouts messages and white for SMS messages.

Other functionality includes the option of merging and unmerging SMS and Hangout conversations at will. A bit like Imessages.

The contacts list now displays a user’s contacts in two main sections – People you Hangouts With, and Phone Contacts.

There’s also a new home screen widget that will show the user’s most recent conversations for easy access.

All this as well as better quality video calls and reliability.

Hangouts for iOS received a major redesign last February that brought the app more in line with the iOS 7 design style as well as introduced many new features, so we’ll be watching for more updates to that in the near future.

Check out the Hangouts today. You won’t be disappointed. Tell us what you think below.

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