Sunday, January 24, 2016

Overhauling Google Hangouts

Its no surprise that everyone is looking to create their own messaging platform. People share their vacation pics, keep in touch with family & friends over group chats or video and pretty much anything else one could do on a social website like Facebook. Its no surprise Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion right from under Google's nose.

Google has had no shortage of messaging applications with the latest iteration being hangouts and rumors saying a new one is around the corner. I use Hangouts a lot second to only WhatsApp but when you compare it against the competition it is nowhere close to the feature set. The biggest plus point is that it is cross platform, it works on the web and syncs across any device that you might have (iOS or Android). it does video chats are reliably and the quality is great.

With that said here are some of my must haves/pain points that I hope Google addresses with Hangouts (ver Next) to bring it at par with everyone else:

Reliable Notifications : Figure out why notifications aren't sent reliably I have heard about and experienced cases where a message was sent on Hangouts and no notification was sent out, resulting in delays in response. While it does work well for a majority of the time, the couple of times that it fails really makes for a bad experience.

Make Adding People Easy: Adding people is again one of those basic tasks that a messenger should be able to do. How often have you added people on hangouts, sent an invite to let the other person add you and then be stuck in not knowing what happened ? This also ties back to the earlier point of no notifications, sometimes the invite to add a person just gets lost.

Lack of Search: This one is obvious. For a search company the app doesnt have a search feature enabled. The only way to search hangout messages is to use the Gmail app on a device or the web. For some odd reason Inbox by Gmail doesnt search hangout messages. Why this is still a problem is bizarre

Add Voice Notes, Send Video Messages : Not being able to send a video file or message is just something I now expect a messaging app to have. The fact that voice notes, video messages are still not part of Hangouts puzzles me.

I hope Google overhauls Hangouts soon or delivers a stellar new messaging app because right now ,compared to the options out there its not as compelling. There is absolutely no reason why at this point in Androids life cycle that hangouts isnt the "iMessage" of its ecosystem.

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