Android Central

Google Hangouts' presence and read confirmations make it the best group messaging app available today.

Heading to Las Vegas earlier this month for CES 2014, the Mobile Nations team had a bit of war in deciding what group messaging platform to use for the week. With 22 people on the ground from the Mobile Nations team (and 10 more from GeekBeat), that's a lot of people — with very varying opinions — to please.

No surprise, as the unofficial leader of the BlackBerry users left in the world, I wanted us all on BBM. Phil, Alex, Richard and Andrew from Android Central here of course all wanted us using Google Hangouts. GeekBeat suggested GroupMe, which the Windows Phone guys were OK with, as they had an app for that. A lot of the members of the team have WhatsApp installed, and it is available on all platforms, but nobody really seemed to be pushing for it. And I *think* most of us had Facebook/Facebook Messenger running, but nobody on the team would admit to using it, never mind suggesting it as our solution for the week.

We all agreed we needed to be on the same app and in a single chatroom, that wasn't up for debate. And I wanted to make sure we had the BEST group messaging solution possible at our fingertips, not simply the one that was available on every platform. If that meant some people had to carry around two phones for the week because the app we picked wasn't available on their platform, then so be it.

Ultimately, the decision we made was go to with Google Hangouts. The reason? Because of the group presence and read notification. If you don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to explain.

Look at the picture of the iPhone running Google Hangouts in the photo above. At the bottom of the chat, you can see a row of profile pics. Those are all the people in the group who have read to the last message you just posted to the group. And if you look up a couple lines, you'll see Rene Ritchie's pic floating there by itself. That means he read up until that point in the message, but didn't yet get to the two latest messages.

Ultimately, the decision we made was go to with Google Hangouts. The reason? Because of the group presence and read notification.

This all may be old hat if you're already an avid Hangouts fan, but I can't overstate just how useful this functionality is, especially when you're trying to coordinate and make plans with a big group of people in real time. After I'd post a message, I'd only have to wait a few seconds for the first few profile pics to show up of people who were quick to read it. Sometimes I had to wait a while before all the people would get the message. But at any given moment, I always knew exactly who had read the latest messages or not. And for those who didn't, I could scroll up and see where they left off. 

Furthermore, beyond just seeing what point people had read up to, I could also see who was actually present with phone in hand with the app open at that moment. The read notification profile pics appear brighter (full color) when that person is actually on the other end with app open too. If the person just read the message and shoved the phone in their pocket, then it goes to the faded color. Again, it's super useful context to have when coordinating with people. 

None of the other mobile messaging platforms I messaged at the beginning of the article had that functionality other than Google Hangouts. On all of BBM, WhatsApp and GroupMe, when you send messages to the group they're just sent (interestingly, Instagram has added similar read notifications with their recently-rolled out direct messaging feature). You just assume that people are hopefully reading them. The only real way to know somebody did is if they reply back. And probably for most people, that's fine. But in a situation like CES, where you're hustling and the pressure is on, well, the more info you have to work with the better. 

When you send messages to the group they're just sent. You just assume that people are hopefully reading them. The only real way to know somebody did is if they reply back

Now, Hangouts is only on Android and iOS right now, so it meant we had to make sure that everybody on the team who was using a BB or Windows Phone also had another iOS or Android phone with them. A bit of pain in the ass, but looking back at that week I'm absolutely glad we went with Hangouts this time around. It saved us time. And it saved us from uncertainty.

This isn't to say that Hangouts is yet the perfect group messaging app. There are lot of group related features lacking from Hangouts. There's no administrative role, which sucks, as it means you can't kick people out of a room. You literally have to abandon the room, then go start a new one. It's too easy to try and video call everybody (which may have happened more than one late at night during the week in Vegas - drinking possibly involved). Photos are all in stream and there's no gallery view to cleanly see all that were shared. There is definitely room for improvement to make it an even better multi-platform group messaging application (bringing it to Windows Phone and BlackBerry would we welcome too).

When it comes to read notification though, they definitely have figured out a great implementation, and it's extremely valuable to have. This alone makes it the best group messaging app for mobile available today.

 
There are 169 comments

Ry says:

Agreed.

Use this everyday to keep up with a small circle of close friends + work chats.

double agreed.

MERCDROID says:

Triple agreed.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Jamaar White says:

I 2² agree.

Posted via Android Central App

keith2k1 says:

^^^ NICE

FortTech101 says:

Agreed.

StealthDroid - Working on his HTC One Max in the Nexus Lab

Walkop says:

Agreed √4 over.

Uh-oh Kevin. ...just wait until the crackberry addicts read this. ...just kidding.

Posted via Android Central App

MERCDROID says:

Lol

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Armada says:

I'm pretty sure they DID read it already. I remember this (or something very similar) being posted on Crackberry a few weeks ago.

brendilon says:

If this was done in Hangouts, you'd know who read it.

Posted via Android Central App

still1 says:

I see what you did there

MERCDROID says:

I see what you saw that he did

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

thisiscjay says:

I see that you saw what he'd seen

duoFurious says:

I didn't see what you said he saw what they had seen because it wasn't on hangouts either.

Posted via Android Central App

jlczl says:

Huh?

;-)

Posted via Android Central App

MERCDROID says:

(mindblown)

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

He didn't see in the sea of C's! He's not apart of Griffin Force *pow*

Posted via Android Central App

ya3goub says:

Yup we read it, and we know that group messaging on BBM is not the best

Posted via Android Central App on my BlackBerry Z10

Chill team blackberry, bbm we got this on lock!

Let me allow to thing man. http://wp.me/p3zd1e-1gQ

BoB16731 says:

Use it everyday just wish you could get the notification bubbles on the ICON like on the normal messaging app

Posted via Android Central App

Ry says:

That's not a "stock" Android thing.

FutureKix says:

I love Hangouts! Calling multiple people in a video chat is awesome.

Telomir says:

When is the next Hangouts update coming out? So good, so far - but with anything, improvements never hurt anything.

GrahamLL says:

I'm eagerly awaiting an update as well!

Valdeck says:

Hangouts is great for group messaging.

Just wanted to point out a few things I noticed in the article.

If you used hangouts you should be able to go Google plus and find a folder with all the media you shared in that conversation. Labeled something like "shared with (persons name)". Might not apply to a huge group conversation but it's there for me in smaller group messages.

Once again not sure if this applies to smaller groups but while you can not kick you can add people to a conversation. I have been able to remove someone from the mobile app once though. But I think that only works for the initiator of the group convo. Also the kicking if someone could have just been them leaving when I wanted to kick them lol

Also BBM should at least show a D for delivered and a check mark for read. But it has been years since I was on BBM.

Thanks for the tip on media sharing Valdeck! Will check it out.

BBM DEFINITELY shows Delivered / Read confirmations for 1 to 1 conversations, but on groups they do not. Neither do the others mentioned at the beginning of the article (GroupMe, WhatsApp). It's really that group read confirmation that makes it a winner *right now*. 

That said, if BBM, etc. add in this type of group presence, then I might need to write an update to this article :)

hmmm says:

I have nothing against hangouts but removing the stock messaging app from the Nexus phone and integrating regular text messaging really annoyed me.

I don't want them integrated and should have been given the choice IN MY OPINION.

Thankfully with Android we have options in the market but resorting to a 3rd party messaging app is less than ideal...

benurd says:

+1

Posted via my oldie but goodie Nexii 4 using the Android Central App

brendilon says:

I know! Isn't it horrible having services integrated to a single consistent interface?

Posted via Android Central App

I see what you did there. But I'm not sure if he saw what you did there. Of course, if he sees that I saw what you did, then maybe he'll say he saw it. See?

kzibart says:

Hangouts sucks at SMS compared to the default app.

arrigob says:

To each their own. I thinks it rocks my face.

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uansari1 says:

Same here...

Ude

Posted via Android Central App

l00natic71 says:

I think that's the whole point of Android. If you don't like the particular implementation of a feature, in your case messaging, you can go and get whatever suits your needs/taste. Otherwise, there will never be progress, since there will always be someone that will complain that the previous version/way was better.

acuda27 says:

Agree, the only way I like the move is if they integrate everything like I message, where you can text people from a wifi only tablet using their Gmail or phone number. If that doesn't happen then it will be pretty annoying moving forward.

TheMimic12 says:

I cannot remember the exact name of the app, but given that the nexus 5 doesn't include a basic SMS app, there is a substitute in the play store that is essentially a duplicate of the AOSP app.
I do hate to say this, but essentially what Google is doing in their version of Android is changing. Starting with jelly bean, they have been replacing stock apps with Google apps.
At least you can get duplicates.

Posted via Android Central App

bm13084 says:

You always have the option to install another app. Textra seems to be pretty much stock.

icebike says:

I had to prevent Hangouts from handling text messages at all, because of some early bugs. I've never bothered to turn it back on.

I've noticed when I send a hangouts message to a friend 3 states away, I have to follow it up with a text message just to get his attention.

Message delivery is really slow at times.
Presence Notification is flaky at best, you end up messaging in the blind hoping they are on line.
It doesn't know how to handle OTR (encrypted messages) like any common Jabber client.
Cant handle RichText like every common Jabber Client.
Have to join Plus to send a picture.
They totally broke Jabber interoperability.

Other than that its finally fairly stable. But nothing to gush over.

David Wendel says:

Agree with what your saying I always wondered if the person I was texting was actually getting the message so I would call them and they would tell me "I didn't get any MSG" so I changed back to the stock SG S4 app which works wonderfully.

loofmodnar says:

Something that's not available for two of the four major mobile OSes this site/network focuses on is hardly something I'd call "the best".

I'd want cross platform compatibility more than read notifications any day.

Don't disagree - multiplatform support is huge. That said, the way we put hangouts to use in this case... for coordinating 22 people in real time (not just hanging out... what a poor name for the way we put it to use), the value of the confirmation trumped the lack of support. 

Ry says:

4? I thought it was only 3 (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).

;)

Nick Garza says:

I own a 1020 and a nexus 5 but, because of the camera on the Lumia, I haven't used my nexus in more than a month and hangouts is probably what I miss the most. Sure, it's not perfect, but its the messaging app available imo. Wish Microsoft would work Skype up to the level of hangouts because I know there won't be any google apps released on WP any time soon.

icebike says:

The Old TALK, and the talk desktop version use Jabber protocol.
They were truly cross platform. (they still work to this day).

They Broke that with Hangouts.

Chanlion says:

Except it's not.
There's one key reason why. It's not fully cross platform. It's why everyone still uses SMS because it's available to everyone. And why Whatsapp still number one in users. And a few other almost 100% cross platform messaging apps are used more often by the average consumer crowd. Skype, BBM, FB messenger.

brendilon says:

Sorry, but there aren't more BBM users than Hangouts users.

Posted via Android Central App

dannyd86 says:

The one group chat I keep going on a regular basis is one with all my brothers. 1 has a government issued blackberry. We used Whatsapp and now BBM. Everybody else is on IOS or android. It just takes that one person who cant be included and the whole group falls apart.

In this particular case if hangouts was on one blackberry it would bring 4 more users to hangouts from IOS and android.

MERCDROID says:

"It just takes that one person..."

Nailed it. Sad, but too often true.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

brendilon says:

Or that person gets left out.
BB isn't going to get a Hangouts app because BB's marketshare is far too small (<3.5%), and shrinking. Ditto Microsoft (3.1%).

liteon163 says:

I understand your points regarding the value of Hangouts in your situation, but I doubt the general public could easily lay their hands on a spare Android or iOS device if they weren't already using one.

Ikeman90 says:

idk proper stats but im willing to bet that with ios and android combined, you have like 90 percent of the market (excluding people like the elderly who have a phone for calls only). what do you have?

brendilon says:

The general public is already using Android or iOS. Market share on WP and BB is tiny.

Posted via Android Central App

MERCDROID says:

True, but he's saying that the vast majority of users probably don't have a spare device (regardless of primary OS used), which sounds pretty damn accurate if you ask me.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

And if they do have a spare device, it likely isn't from a different platform. Most people who have spares just keep last year's model of what ever platform they like. i.e., the Nexus 5 guy might have a Nexus 4 as a spare. iPhone 5S user probably has an iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S in their drawer.

MERCDROID says:

+1

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Walkop says:

+1².

Oh...wait a monkey-shneedin second! That's not right!

+√4!

brendilon says:

eh... yes and no. The only people I know who have Blackberries were all issued their BB device for work. They also all have their own personal device, either Android or iOS. Work issued BBs are definitely a thing and while the same can't be said of WP, I would bet that people who have BBs have a disproportionate rate of having secondary devices from another platform as compared to Android or iOS users.

MERCDROID says:

I can agree to this, brother.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

As far as photos go while in hangouts. On Android, the photos are synced with Google+ and I can view them in the Photos app that is part of Google+ now, as well as on the web. I am not sure how that integration works on iOS though.

Speaking of photos in Hangouts, I wish Google would fix the MMS photo bug. If you send a photo via MMS and it's in portrait orientation, the app "squishes" the photo into landscape orientation.

It's the only reason I don't use Hangouts as a daily driver. My in-laws are all on iOS and don't how to use any other app besides iMessage.

drg02 says:

Six months later and this bug is still here.

jean15paul says:

BBM TRAITOR!!!!!! #sarcasm :)

I use both! And then some... Whatsapp, GroupMe, Facebook Messenger...

SOOO MANY messengers.

MERCDROID says:

You're such a messenger whore! Lol!

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

SachinBahal says:

Someone needs to make one messaging app to rule them all, that is on all platforms instead of all of the separate ones available now

Posted via my Galaxy Nexus

brendilon says:

They have, it's called SMS.

MERCDROID says:

Lol, well played.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

dchawk81 says:

And SMS doesn't care how shit your connection is as long as you have a connection. It might take a bit but it'll go.

Data, on the other hand...

Telomir says:

Is it in the pipeline to have SEPARATE THREADS for a user for a Hangout chat vs an SMS? That would be icing on the cake in the next iteration of Hangouts.

Argh says:

Aren't they already separate threads? SMS and IM are completely split for the same user in Hangouts on Android. I can't even see an option to merge them.

Telomir says:

Woops, I meant merge, not split - thanks for the correction!

quaff says:

Hangouts does this already, you have two separate chats (unless Threads mean something else to you) for Hangout out vs SMS chat with the same person.

EDIT: Nevermind, seems the OP wrote mean the opposite of what he wrote :p

moedin says:

Now we need to get those dumb people off every other third party crappy app that competes with this. I can't get people to switch because they already use {enter terrible app here}. Hangouts is the best one going, its free, and integrates with your gmail account - what else do you need?!

Grrrr!

Ry says:

This is what happens when you jump in late in the game.

MERCDROID says:

Yep.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

still1 says:

I am the other way around... i make other people use hangouts and when they ask me to install other apps I would never install and that would force them to use hangouts with me...

tmiller679 says:

Damn that BlackBerry looks sexy. I'm really considering one on my next upgrade.

Posted via Android Central App

Argh says:

The Porsche edition in that picture was $2000 though...

tmiller679 says:

The regular one looks just as good. I'll have to see if I like next BlackBerry more than my HTC One

Posted via Android Central App

MERCDROID says:

Yeah, both the Z10 and Q10 look great.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

omullins says:

I love Hangouts. I would absolutely love to see it come to my Windows Phone. But I'm not holding my breath. I'd love to see a talented third party dev tackle a fully capable dedicated app though.

Armada says:

Hangouts is awesome but it really needs a lot of kinks worked out of it on iOS. Compared to the Android version it has a lot of issues like the chat history taking a long time to load and the message thread not being updated as soon as new messages come in.

Glenn says:

Hangouts would be a great group messaging app... if it actually worked on every phone where it wants to take over SMS/MMS.

Reported to Google forums in November 2013, Hangouts has issues sending/receiving MMS messages (used for group messaging) on multiple phones. The issues remain unresolved.

(Do a Google search for "hangouts unable to send mms")

This is very unfortunately, because while I would like to use Hangouts as my default messaging app, I cannot--I am unable to send/receive any group texts if I use Hangouts.

gabbott says:

It's much more robust if you use Google's protocol for hangouts as opposed to SMS/MMS.

Zig261 says:

What a joke. Hangouts has failed on me numerous times. I couldn't receive half the messages and it takes nearly 10 seconds or more to even send a short message in.

But then again this us AndroidCentral, the headquarters of all things pro-Google.
Posted via Android Central App

MERCDROID says:

Lol

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Are you on Sprint by chance? If you have a crappy data connection of course Hangouts will be worse.

Zig261 says:

No, im on Verizon.

Posted via Android Central App

bangishotyou says:

Let's play a game.

1. Hangouts only acts up when there are network issues.

2. If you couldn't receive half your messages and it was taking nearly 10 seconds or more to send short ones, it's either one of the following: Your network (WiFi/cellular), your phone or you. I'm almost certain it's a combination of all three, but I'm leaning more towards "user error/incompetence".

3. The article was written by CrackBerry Kevin. It's just posted on Android Central, however, as someone else already pointed out this was up elsewhere as early as last week.

4. I just sent a few Hangouts messages. One as solely a Hangout message on my computer. Sent, with a reply received, in a second. I also sent an SMS message through Hangouts on my phone, went through in a second. Sent an MMS message on my phone too, took about 5 seconds (relating to network connectivity issues, I work in a government building and the fact that I get signal in here at all is truly boggles the mind).

5. In summation, please do not speak before thinking. You look silly and/or like an idiot. Especially when it's easy to prove you wrong on every single one of your talking points.

Sincerely,

A (Please/Satisfied) Hangouts User

MERCDROID says:

While I do agree with your comment, I have experienced a few times where I'd have 4-5 bars of LTE (T-Mobile) or be connected to Wi-Fi and have tried to send a message with a 10-second or so delay.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

bangishotyou says:

Odd. Haven't had that happen to me yet. Guess I'm just lucky. Only time I've had issues sending is when I've been out in the boonies with no signal. Also on T-Mobile and we have LTE all over the place (for the most part) locally. There's just a handful of random roads where Edge is all that's available and that's usually when I've noticed the issue sending.

MERCDROID says:

I'm glad it hasn't happened to you! It just happened to me again. But, I think the "issue" might be weather-related.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Of course they are pro Google here. This is a site about android. That's not a bad thing.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

MERCDROID says:

Boom. And, it's not like Phil and the Gang have never been critical of Google.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

mikepahl318 says:

I must be the only one. Google Hangouts can not read about 1/3rd of my contacts. if i type in "Chris" on the default SMS app i get different results than "Chris" in Hangouts

Google.com/contacts. You can edit them there.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

NWSD says:

When hangouts gets WiFi calling like the iOS app then it will be best.

I use Hangouts every single day for multiple group conversations. It absolutely rocks for the reasons stated in the article. It's not perfect, of course, but no solution is.

Some people (after reading the comments) need to realize that the use case Kevin described is not a normal use case, where having multiple devices just to use a service will be more important than anything else. Different people will have different priorities for picking a service based on their particular use case.

I have too many group chats to NOT use hangouts now, it's ubiquitous among the people I communicate with, and as others have said, I've converted a few of my friends over to it to communicate with me (I like the chat heads a lot, but otherwise don't like Facebook Messenger).

When (not if, I have full confidence that this will happen) Google Voice and Hangouts get properly integrated (as well as SMS/MMS. Current solution still feels hacked) it will be a go to app for a TON of people. That might even be enough to make me use Google Voice full time.

How this was not already integrated with Google voice is ridiculous, it's the reason I'm not using it yet.

CoolBeit says:

Same here. I use GV as my primary number, so until they got it solved and pushed, I have no use for Hangouts. C'mon google! Let's get that update out!

Xopher says:

For photos, create an event in G+ (which can be private). Anyone "attending" the event can take photos and have them shared to the event. That will create a gallery of images from the attendees.

It doesn't really link to Hangouts, but it is a good way to keep images from one event in one place. Combine that with Hangouts and you have one system for communication and keeping track of everything.

Warrenisit says:

It's too bad Hangouts completely sucks in place of the stock messenger. It takes too long to load. Pictures take forever to download (often unable to complete). Maybe it's good as a group messanger but not as an everyday, one-on-one messenger imo.

Posted via Android Central App

I have a G2 and hangouts is very slow to load. Annoyingly slow to load.

They should make speedup a top priority.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

Warrenisit says:

I agree! Would love to use it on a regular basis but it's slower than any other app on my phone which doesn't cut it for me.

Posted via Android Central App

Not an issue for me running CM 11 on my HTC One.

Posted via Android Central App

elrey75 says:

Has the conflict with sprint's visual voice mail been fixed? Hangouts intercepts the voice mail as a text and I don't receive them.

Except it only works with Google (and SMS) and only when Google services work (99.999% of the time).
I still know people who don't use Google services. They prefer other messaging services.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

DabuXian says:

That's all really cool and all. Too bad literally nobody uses it except few Android nerds. It's all about Facebook and Skype nowadays, you just can't escape these two.

Zig261 says:

I see very few people using FB Messenger anymore and Skype is usually used for business deals and purely videos. Everyone is on the WhatsApp bandwagon where i live.

brendilon says:

I know literally no one who uses Skype or Facebook messenger. Everyone I know uses Hangouts. Including iOS users.

MERCDROID says:

Actually, the number of people that "use" Facebook has been on the decline, at least in my circles. Everybody still has Facebook, but it's just there.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Those are some fugly phones there.

Posted via Android Central App

DaFonZisBack says:

If more people used it maybe. Unfortunately its catered towards nerds and hipsters. This is not a troll its reality

posted with a galaxy note 3. h8ers gon' h8. live2win#swagface#switchedOn*_*

brendilon says:

Surest sign of a troll is saying they're not trolling.

MERCDROID says:

Lol

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

mzanette says:

As Admiral Ackbar said "It's a trap."

Kevin posts flattering article on hangouts while secretly he works to get everyone converted over to BBM.

Bbm all the way!!!!

Posted via Android Central App Z10STL100-2/10.2.0.1803

It used to be the best. Now when i'm on mobile data I do not receive others' comments for a good 16-25 minutes after they're posted. It makes it almost unusable unless i'm on wi-fi. And I know the problem exists on both T-Mobile and AT&T data.

Taz89 says:

Would love to use hangouts as my main messaging app cause then I could see and reply from my laptop or tablet but just can't get anyone of my friends to leave WhatsApp.

Posted via Android Central App using galaxy s4

keith2k1 says:

I use Google for my friends and BBM for work. For me both work fine.

kasperkyd says:

I prefer to stay away of any google app or facebook to avoid spying though im using android with google account but going back to apple for stronger privacy

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

If you think Apple is 'spying' on you any less than Google or Facebook, you're deluding yourself.

dcdttu says:

They've made great updates to this app - it is the go-to messaging app for me and my friends, regardless of phone platform.

They just need to fix that separate SMS/Hangouts message thing and truly integrate them, squash the open-your-thread-in-the-middle-of-it-so-you-have-to-scroll-to-the-bottom issue and make it so it doesn't mute my music I'm listening to just because I'm in the Hangouts app while the phone is on Silent or Vibrate.

PureView says:

God Kevin, how stalkerish are you? Your WhatsApp rant at CB revolved entirely around not being able to get read reports, or delivery reports. And now you want to know when someone has the app opened? One of the first things I do on WhatsApp is turn that stupid feature off. And you can't do that on Hangouts, which is a big minus for me.

Walkop says:

What?

Hangouts doesn't tell anyone that you have the app open. It only tells people if you're READING the conversation that they're in with you at the same time.

PureView says:

It does tell you when someone has the app opened. Look around.

Doesn't FB Messenger tell you when certain individuals have read the message? And also give status? And is actually usable on more platforms? Oh, sorry, no one will admit to using it. :)

Both of them need video messaging capability, and Hangouts needs voice messaging.

jlgraham says:

I never use Hangouts, only because none of the people I talk to do, though I do like the app a lot. WhatsApp is starting to become popular among my friends, but since most of them use iPhones and iMessage, so far SMS has been the only reliable option. Even most of my friends who have Android phones never use it and half still don't even know about Google+ or Hangouts.

tlaswell says:

Thanks Kevin,
I've used Hangouts for a while communicating with a small group of Ingress Agents. I had only figured out the part that the brightening of the profiles meant they were actively reading. The location of the profile didn't make sense to me until you explained it.

Personally the biggest caveat is not being able to kick people. We have had to abandon hangouts when an opponent gets themselves invited. We also would like to see "handles" added to the profile. When you use agent names to address people you tend to not pick up their real name then wonder who this new person is in the hangout. Some groups have tried GroupMe or IRC but everyone has a hangout account and it seems to be the go to app for quick group chats.

Where's the manual?

You're so right. The learning curve on Google Hangouts is REALLY HIGH.  It's one of the areas where I think it can be improved the most compared to the competition. It's kind of like an IQ test learning to use it. 

Once you figure it makes sense. But honestly, the first times I used it I had no idea how the group read confirmations actually worked. Then once it clicked, I was like... woah, brilliant. Every group IM app needs that.

Also agree with you on needing to be able to have a room admin, and the ability to kick people out.

Far from perfect still, but they definitely made it a useful too with their group read functions.

Wolter says:

I hate Hangouts for groupchat. If there are 5+ chatty people in the group (and the group that im in has 50+) then you will never ever find a place where you left off. thats why we used whatsapp but it had user limits and no desktop client and then we heared of Telegram app. Its amazing. Its like whatsapp on steroids. Its new and evolving. It has all the things that hangouts lack + secure chat. I will probably only use hangouts to comunicate with cave people that still use it.

EDIT: We are also an Ingress group.

Well that's your opinion and you and it can get lost.
EDIT: No one cares

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MERCDROID says:

You obviously care, since you replied.

Seriously, if you can have an opinion, why can't he??

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Lee Crumley says:

I like hangouts. Only fault is that it will not receive MMS messages on my phone. It says click to download then sits for eternity and never downloads. I know others are having this problem from reading comments on the play store.

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Rattso2005 says:

No Dark theme means it doesnt exist to me!

bigtnew says:

+1

Posted via my hTc one with a cracked screen!

gregs1213 says:

Does anyone else have trouble in hangouts with video calls? Many times, when I try to accept a call, it doesn't connect, and when I am calling someone else, it doesn't ring on their phone until it already timed out.. Video Quality never seems to be that great compared to Facetime.

That's called poor service. Hangouts has pretty good quality video calling.

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p5stover says:

Why don't hangouts come up on my chomebook as well as nexus 5? I really want hangouts to work but its still missing a few key features. Can only save first picture in a series....

Does the read notification work for group SMS/MMS also? or is it just when you are using hangout to hangout group messaging?

brendilon says:

Just Hangouts. MMS/SMS don't process that sort of information.

Thanks brendilon. I was able to find the toggle for SMS read notification, it just puts a check mark in the message. Nothing for MMS though.

Duncan J says:

If you use quickpic app it will pull your hangout images into a unique gallery. I've only launched it from within handouts but it works great as long as each image is sent individually and not as group

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Use it for my fantasy league... Love it

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gutt3 says:

Actually, Facebook messenger has all of the features that Kevin detailed. I use both regularly (different friend groups) and I find them to be at parity in terms of text , but I prefer hangouts for the quick and seamless video chatting from the same client. But that shouldn't take anything away from fb.

It becomes more of a "which social network does everyone have" issue instead of a features issue. Which is why Facebook may be the better choice sometimes...

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law2010 says:

This is why I have nothing but respect for Kevin and the Crackberry team. Despite Hangouts being a product developed by a rival company to Blackberry, he could state that it was, at the moment, a better messaging platform as far as group "read" notifications.

Good article, Kevin. Now I have to go over to Crackberry and give some love.

Thanks for the comment! Appreciate it. 

Figure I can't go wrong calling things as I seem them, right? 

Also, this might speed up BBM to getting group read notifications built in! Lol :)

gcardona says:

For sure one of the best solutions right now, however I usually try to avoid Google services, even thou my company has all it's communication on Google's services. A lot of the missing features mentioned by Kevin, are available on Whatsapp (photo gallery, cross platform). The only exception would be the managing feature, that is something that would only be available on the grandfather of all messaging apps, BBM.

So far there is no perfect solution for all of us, but competition is always good.

Stanzilla says:

Sadly the UI sucks. I mean, the conversation view is fine but the contact list and the way you open new conversations is really bad :(

penguin says:

Will Hangouts Text Messaging work with Ford Sync?

DNicolasL says:

I just wish that Hangouts wasn't so laggy on the Nexus 4. It's great on the Nexus 10 but lags so hard on the Nexus 4.

kcmartz says:

It's good, but could be improved greatly. I haven't seen a feature to keep group chats after everyone logs off, like Skype group chats will stay around.

tmiller679 says:

I've had hangouts disabled on my HTC One ever since I got it but after reading up on it, I decided to enable it and give it test. I'm not quite sure if I like it or not. It doesn't seem to do anything real special and nobody I know really uses it. Does anybody here use it primarily? I'm really in to hello sms right now..

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chapaj says:

The reason the author is praising it, is for the messaging with the Hangouts protocol, not it's SMS integration. You can continue using Hello SMS for your SMS/MMS messages and Hangouts for Hangouts messages.

Kramer81 says:

I like Hangout but the noticifation must be improved.

In WhatsApp I can set the notification on a "one to one" and "group chat" level. I will still get the messeges if I don't have any notification.

In Hangout I want to be able to set vibration and sound notification on a chat level but as it is now if I uncheck the notification messege under the specific chat /alternativs then I won't get a notification for when people write to in that chat.

I still want to get the messeges but I want to be able to mute/put on vibrat only a specific chat. Otherwise I'll be spammed with notification alerts for group chats.

Alan Arce says:

I still havent found a reason to use hangouts. Maybe not having many friends might be the problem....

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photopaul65 says:

It needs drastic improvement in the speed category, takes far too long to load compared to a standalone SMS app. Once that's fixed, I'll use it more often.

mattj99 says:

My biggest issue with hangouts is that is doesn't "just know" which of my contacts are on hangouts and which aren't.

Google knows who is a hangouts user, or they could know, so when I compose a message it shouldn't bother me with a choice about whether to use SMS or Hangouts. If the person I'm sending it to is on Hangouts it should use that if not use SMS. If imessage can do that I'm sure Hangouts can.

xchange says:

Hangouts I like for data and video. For SMS? I hate it.

Rolandh says:

I use it all time to send pictures to my mum from my iPhone or even Nexus 7 & just started using it on the laptop (Acer C720 Chromebook).

richardsoper says:

For me the only thing Hangouts is missing is Google Voice integration. I use Google Voice as my primary number so I cant completely enjoy hangouts yet.

raguram88 says:

It's great....And, Google sells Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion (for details http://www.gadgetride.com/news/google-sells-motorola-to-lenovo-for-291-b...).

I really like Hangouts, but then heard that I needed to use the stock messaging app on my Moto X in order to take full advantage of Motorola Assist (which I love). Does anyone know if this is the case?

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sue222 says:

Hangout only shows 4 line of your text as your typing it. So frustrating. Isn't there an app out there that will show my entire text? My Evo text box/field expanded as you type, like the iphone. I thought all phones did this until the Moto x. Help need app that will show my entire text as I type!!!!

MrM1234 says:

Oh Wait ... You didnt want to sent a group text to a group in your google contacts group list .... Nope can't find how to access any of those groups - if it's there it is not intuitive and not easily found how to do it in a web search - not in Hangouts and not from the stock text messenger. Had to finally find and install the Handcent app to actually get back to work. Could Hangouts Suck any more than it does??? After 3 days of F-ing with it I disabled it.

Google Voice Now Features Calling In Hangouts Without Using Google+
Check Easy review - http://goo.gl/EZjP1E