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If you are looking for a modern communication platform suitable for video, text messaging, and more, you might want to check out Google Hangouts. While it can be considered a competitor to Microsoft’s Skype video chat service, Hangouts features many extras including natural integration with the popular Android mobile operating system. In fact, you probably already have the Hangouts app lurking amongst your Android smartphone’s app library and it could be worthy of further exploration.
Google Hangouts Basic Features
Hangouts offers many different ways for you to communicate over the Internet — Voice calls, VOIP, text messaging, SMS — all possible using your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Group video calls are another option, which can be useful in a business meeting scenario, or to let your family get together online for a quick chat.
Google makes it easy for you to share photos and videos as part of the conversation. Even adding emoji to the discussion is possible, (but might not be appropriate for every online business meeting.) The cool thing about each individual Google Hangout is that they never have to end; you can start one on your smartphone and continue the discussion on another device.
In addition to the Android app on the Google Play store, iPhone and iPad users can also join in the fun with the iOS app available at the iTunes app store. One caveat for desktop users is Hangouts requires an extension only available for Google’s Chrome web browser. Once the extension is installed, you can access the service using either Gmail or Google+.
Another feature of Hangouts is its ability to let you “call” another person’s smartphone or even their landline. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calls require Google credits unless the called party is another Hangouts user. These landline calls require a separate Hangouts Dialer app.
Make Sure you have Enough Bandwidth for Online Video Chat
Of course, video chatting using a Google Hangout takes a notable amount of Internet bandwidth, so make sure you perform a regular HTML5 speed test on your smartphone to be sure your Internet service can handle it. If your ISP isn’t keeping up their end of the bargain, by all means let them know.
Google Hangouts is definitely a 21st Century way to communicate with friends, family, and business associates. The massive popularity of Android gives Hangouts a better shot at sustained success compared to Google+ so if you wanted to try it out it appears Google Hangouts will be hanging out for quite a while.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.