Google Hangouts is a versatile addition to Google's suite of productivity tools. It's available on many different platforms, affords you multiple methods of communication with your Google contacts and others (including text messages, phone calls, and video chats), and only costs you money if you use it to call standard phones outside the United States or Canada. However, its functionality can differ significantly depending on what platform (e.g. mobile, desktop, browser extension) you use it on. Also, its integration with several other Google services (such as Gmail, Google Chrome, and Google Voice) can make it somewhat cumbersome to use, unless you use a lot of products from Google anyway.
If you're looking for apps like Google Hangouts that are simpler and more user-friendly, we would suggest Skype or Appear.in. Or, if you want something similar to Google Hangouts that isn't so heavily tied into a network of other services, your best stand-alone options are probably Line, WeChat, or Viber.
Below are more details on these five suggestions for alternatives to Google Hangouts.
A very popular Google Hangouts alternative, Skype is currently run by Google rival Microsoft. You can use it as a stand-alone service, or connect it with your Microsoft account. Like with Google Hangouts, you can use Skype to exchange text messages, pictures, and computer files with anyone else whom you have added as a Skype contact (or who has added you as one). You can also chat with them over a live video feed! Skype also allows you to send or receive phone calls to standard phones, but unlike Google Hangouts, you have to pay for almost all calls that you make (even if they're within the United States or Canada).
Skype is also really easy to use! See just how easy it is in our Skype course!
Appear.in is one of the simplest Google Hangouts alternatives, as you don't have to sign up for an account, and you don't have to download or install a program. Basically, you just go to the website, and pick a name for your chat room. Once you're inside, just copy the web address and send it to up to 8 other people whom you want to talk to (over email, phone, text message, etc.). When they enter the address into their Internet browser, they'll join the chat. Then, you can talk to each other on video, exchange text messages (including Internet links), and even lock the chat room if you don't want anyone else joining the session. Appear.in also has an app for mobile devices.
WeChat is a similar app to Google Hangouts, and offers several of the same services. You can find contacts on WeChat and exchange text messages, pictures, and videos. You can also talk to each other over phone or video chat, including multi-user teleconferencing. Some other things that it can do include letting you send money to other people, and following the activities and promotions of famous people and companies!
Line is an interesting alternative to Google Hangouts, as it includes a lot of other stuff besides basic messaging services (such as adding contacts and teleconferencing through text chats, video meetings, and phone calls). These include games, customization options for your interface, and "hidden chats" that get deleted after a certain amount of time. In that sense, Line is a more socially-oriented communication app, something akin to Snapchat.
Viber is another Google Hangouts competitor that takes a more social approach, offering features like public chat rooms concerning various topics and custom emotion stickers that you can purchase and add to your messages. Viber often gets compared to Skype, but it is different in two key ways. First, it doesn't show advertisements... ever. Second, the ability to call standard phones through Viber is covered by a flat subscription rate, not charged on a per-call basis and subject to differing international rates. However, this feature is only available on the Viber mobile app.
Have you tried out any of these services like Google Hangouts? Did they help you reach out to the people you care about, or did your messages get lost in translation? Are there any other apps or tools like Google Hangouts that you would recommend? Let us know by leaving us a comment below, or dropping us a line on our social media pages.
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