Hangouts (replaces Talk) is the Google rendition of the MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger, both of which have their own versions for Android. More recently, there has been competition from the likes of WhatsApp and Line. Finally, BBM for Android, which we reviewed recently, has joined the competition for Android devices as well. Now Hangouts had its good bits, like the ability to invite people to your chat, and add them simultaneously to your Google+ circles. The new features, however, are the better integration of video chat and SMS integration.
Video integration was already present on the app, but now it has been spruced up so that it functions better. It worked well for us at least on a 8MBps connection. Some users who use a version taken from the Android 4.4 Kitkat default build have complained that video chat crashes. Google has apparently taken heed of this problem and added new libraries for video chat, so now works well with almost any device.
SMS integration is truly something new. It was present on popular messaging apps, so it was only a matter of time before Google brought it in. When you start the app for the first time you’ll get a prompt to enable SMS. If you ignore it, you can enable it later from Settings Finally, Hangouts now allows you to set your mood using a large number of “sticker”-type icons accessible through Settings These aside, basic functionality is as good as ever, though we do wish the Hangouts contacts and SMS contacts weren’t mixed up. Also, some theme options would have been a great addition to the rather drab green and white environs of the app
Overall, the new Hangouts is a significant improvement over the earlier one, though it remains to be seen how popular it becomes amongst the highly connected youth of today.