Hangouts is Google’s take on chat rooms. Like many times before, Google has turned a good idea into something incredibly useful, while preserving simplicity and ease of use and thus making it fantastic.
In a previous article, I explained How To Use Google+ Hangouts To Meet With Friends. In this article I will focus on what it is that makes Hangouts so great and definitely cooler than Skype.
1. Free Video Chat With Up To 10 Participants
On Hangouts, you can invite up to 9 friends into a video chat with you and it’s free. Skype on the other hand allows free one-on-one video chats. If you want to invite a third person, you have to upgrade to Skype Premium or make do with audio only.
2. A More Intuitive Interface
Yes, I said it. Google Hangouts has a more intuitive interface than Skype! Once you are in a Hangout that is. While figuring out how to join a Hangout can be a challenge, once you’ve managed to join, things are straightforward and simple without omitting fun features and great details.
Let’s look at sharing your screen as an example, an option available both in Skype and Google Hangouts. In Skype, you must be in a video call to be able to share your screen. Sounds obvious, right? Well, in Hangouts you can create a chat room to prepare and test the screen before anyone else joins. That’s an advantage in my book.
To share your screen in Hangouts, you click the Screenshare button, which opens a window showing all windows you can share. You select what you want to share and click Share selected window button. Now try to do this in Skype. While technically, Skype can do the same things with only subtle differences, the key is that Google managed to design a straightforward and intuitive process.
The same case can be made for inviting people to the conversation or other options.
3. Integrated Apps
Hangouts offers a selection of optional apps, for example YouTube, Google Docs, and SlideShare. These apps enable you to collaborate on a Google Document, use Cacoo to co-create diagrams with your team, watch a YouTube video with your best friends away from home, and play games, all while chatting and video chatting at the same time.
In comparison, Skype, with the only added bonus that you can send a file, suddenly seems very one dimensional.
When you set up your Hangout, you can select the option Hangouts On Air. Subsequently, your Hangout will be broadcast live on your Google+ stream and on your YouTube channel. Apart from being streamed live, the Hangout also gets automatically saved to your YouTube account. Unfortunately, you cannot broadcast and save your Hangouts privately.
5. Minimal Setup & Maintenance Requirements
All you need for Google Hangouts is a browser (tip: you are probably using one right now), a browser add-on that installs automatically, and a Google account registered with Google Plus. Skype on the other hand is a separate download that provides no additional services and requires regular updates, in addition to an account that you can’t use for much else.
With your Google account you can use a wide selection of Google services. Moreover, you can use it as a social network login option on other websites, for example to join and comment on MakeUseOf.
Google Hangouts offers a lot more features than Skype. In all honesty, though, it lacks the accessibility and stand-by nature that make Skype so convenient for quick and spontaneous interactions. What Google could do to allow for a seamless transfer from a text or audio-based chat to a proper Hangout, is to tie together Google Hangouts and Google Talk (the standalone client).
This may require Google Hangouts to become available independent of a Google Plus registration or maybe Google Talk (the chat client) would need to integrate better with Google Plus.
Have you tried Google Hangouts, yet? Why not or what was your impression?