Neither Babble nor Babel, Google has finally named its much-talked about cross-platform messaging app as Hangouts. By the look of it, Hangouts appears to be a perfect combo of Google’s cool communication features, all brought under one roof. With the likes of iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype and several other instant/social messaging apps, though late, the company has given its messaging platform a much-needed facelift. Basically, Google has merged its key communication channels such as Google+ Hangouts, Voice, Google Talk and the Google+ Messenger. Here’s a quick look at what Google’s new unified cross-messaging platform is all about.

Easy to navigate UI
Firstly, you can download the new Hangouts app from the Play Store. It may state “already installed”, as Hangouts is nothing but an enhanced replacement for your GTalk. However, simply clicking on “Open” from your mobile Google Play Store may not be of any help. To get the new Hangouts, try downloading it from your desktop using the same Google account as on your mobile device – it did work for us. On downloading the app, the new Hangouts logo will replace your GTalk icon. The app will then ask you to key in the name of your country and mobile number. The user interface is really neat and simple to navigate. The two-paged interface lets you choose people from your Circle, GTalk and phone contacts to initiate a chat. You can search for the contact using name, email, number or circle.

Simple to navigate

Simple to navigate

Spruced instant messaging
The app adds a lot of emoticons to instant text messaging, just like WhatsApp. The instant messaging interface of Google+ has been slightly tweaked. The camera icon placed on the left side lets you either click an image and send it right away or select images from the gallery. The video chat option is right on the top, which lets you begin a Hangout any time during the course of the conversation. Obviously, you’ve been tied to Google+ for video chats, which also shows Google’s desperate attempts at forcing its social networking site on us.

Share images

Share images

Google+ Hangouts unchanged
Google has diligently branded the messaging app “Hangouts”, the most popular aspect of Google+. You will find all features of “Google+ Hangouts” including Group Hangout that allows video chatting with up to 9 people. It allows a Hangout participant (who hasn’t initiated the Hangout) to add other members, shows other participants as small tiles and automatically focuses on the person talking. Moreover, you can enter a Hangout from your computer and Android or Apple devices. Currently, the availability of the app for Android varies with devices, but Google plans to make it available for any Android device running on Android 2.3 and above. The app has also been launched on iTunes for devices running on iOS 6.1 or above.

Hangouts stay in sync across devices so you can start or continue them anywhere. With options like archives and history, you can view what you talked about in the past, including photos and video call history. Once you see a Hangouts alert on your device, you won’t see repeats on your computer or other Android devices. There is also an option to snooze notifications for up to 72 hours.

New emoticons

New emoticons

Great choice for those who frequent Google+ Hangouts
Google has slightly tweaked its Google+ Messaging app, but hasn’t improved or added new functions to the “Google+ Hangouts” at all. The video chatting feature is just like it would be if you were to use the Google+ app. Both have been merged to create this app. The only convenience is that you get instant, one-touch access to video chats and don’t have to go through the Google+ menu to access it. The refreshing change is the cross-platform ability, which could bring a relief to iOS users who can now access almost all Google+ Hangouts functions. Though instant messaging seems cool and fun with the new app, Hangouts could possibly be a great option only for those who frequent Google+ Hangouts.

Click here to download Hangouts for Android.

Click here to download Hangouts for iOS.

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