When one thinks about video chat and calling, perhaps what come to mind are Skype and FaceTime.
While these are popular and quality options in their own right, the reinvention of Google Hangouts makes it a formidable competitor, more than capable of making that list. Granted, it does not pass the verb test in the way that Skyping and FaceTiming are now urban dictionary verbs, but what it offers can now rival the best of them. It was once part of Google plus, but has since cut ties and is now an independent player on its own. It is now essentially a messaging and video calling service between Google Plus users.
While it is a particularly good messaging app, Google seems to have recognized the fact that it might not pick because of the phenomenon of messenger fatigue. This is the phenomenon where because there are many emerging messaging apps in the market, people generally feel that there is no need for yet another messaging app. However, Google has gone out of its way to make the experience easier. For instance, the installation process is relatively easier. One simply has to find the app on the playstore, install and boot it up. Since most people sign up with Google accounts when they start using their phones, there is no need for any new signup. Those who did not sign up with their Google accounts simply use the add account feature and all is set. There is no need for an elaborate registration process before using the app.
Another strong point of the app is in the interface. The main page interface is clean and simple, making it easy to navigate and recognize features. The main page shows all the chats and their time stamps. The people spoken with will have their chats shown with a small circle, showing the profile pictures, which is good for identification purposes. To access a chat, simply tap it on the list. While this is basic, it is the simplicity that makes it attractive. The app also comes with a voice chat feature that, although not as good as Skype, still offers good voice quality.
The real attraction, though, is the video chat feature. Hangouts give the user the ability to have a video conversation with up to 10 participants. This video conversation can happen across various platforms; Android, desktop and iOS users can all be on the same video chat. When someone speaks in the video conversation, their video is brought to attention. The other videos in the call go down to a smaller box until it is their turn to speak. This feature can, however, get a little messy since it is not always that conversations are ordered. The quality of the call will also vary with the strength of the connection; a strong Wi-Fi connection will have the video chat working very well.
There have been reservations about the text side of the messaging app. However, the bottom line is that it is a quality app. The fact that it came to the messaging app party pretty late might hamper it, but it has more than enough to compete.