Google Hangouts Review

Okay, so we’ve introduced Google Hangouts and gone over its costs.  Now, it’s time to have a quick look at what makes Google Hangouts good or not, so you can decide whether to make it your new communication tool to hang out on online, or whether to just hang up on it.  Here’s our take.

Pros

  • Hanging out only costs you time… mostly — For the most part, Google Hangouts is free to download, install, and use.  The only thing that might cost you money is if you use it to call standard phone numbers outside of the United States or Canada.

  • Lots of places to hang out — Google Hangouts is available on a lot of different platforms.  You can use it on your mobile device, install it as an add-on to your favourite web browser, or access it right from your computer desktop by pairing it with the Google Chrome web browser.  You can even use it from inside your Gmail account!

  • Get the message across however you want — Google Hangouts supports multiple communication methods.  You can exchange text messages (or even pictures or videos) with other Google Hangouts users, or chat with them over a real-time video feed.  You can even call people on the phone through Google Hangouts, even if they don’t use Hangouts themselves!

Cons

  • How does this work, again? — There’s a bit of a lack of consistency when it comes to how Google Hangouts works across each of its versions.  For example, if you want to call phones when using Google Hangouts on a mobile device using the Google Android operating system, you need a separate app called the Hangouts Dialer.  Or, if you want to use the desktop version at all, you need to install the Google Chrome web browser first.  We’ll do our best to point out how processes differ between the desktop computer and mobile device versions.

  • How much Google is too much Google? — Google Hangouts is tied in with a lot of other Google services, such as the Gmail email service, the Google Chrome web browser, and the Google Voice voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) service.  This isn’t such a big deal if you use a lot of Google products anyway, but if you don’t, you may need to plug your information into a few other services that you aren’t going to get a lot of use out of (which also kind of stinks in terms of privacy.)

The bottom line: 8/10

As far as Internet communication apps go, Google Hangouts has a few things going for it.  First, it’s mostly free to use, and the parts that cost money are usually cheaper than most comparable services.  Second, it can be used on a number of different platforms, including mobile devices, the Gmail email client, many common web browsers, and your computer desktop (if you have the Google Chrome we browser).  And third, it’s an all-in-one solution, with text messaging, file sharing (including videos and pictures), video chat, and even phone calls to people who aren’t on Google Hangouts!

Google Hangouts has two big drawbacks, though.  The first is that it doesn’t seem to work exactly the same way depending on where you use it, so certain functions may be easier to use on the mobile device version versus the computer desktop version, and vice-versa.  The second is that it’s somewhat dependent on a bunch of other Google services; this is fine if you use stuff like Google Chrome, Gmail, and Google Voice regularly.  But if you don’t, Google Hangouts might seem to you like an online communication tool that has too many strings attached to using it.

Overall, whether or not Google Hangouts will be the right online communication tool for you depends on whether or not you like using other services from Google.  If you do, then Google Hangouts will fit naturally into your repertoire of Google-powered productivity tools.  If not, then you may want to look at some of the more stand-alone alternatives to Google Hangouts, so that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of going through a bunch of other services that you’ll rarely use just to get an effective all-in-one Internet communication app.

 

If you’d like to hang out with Google Hangouts for a while and see what you think of it based on your own experience, our next tutorial will show you how to download and install it for your mobile device or desktop computer.


Is Google Hangouts Free to Use for Online Calls?

So far in our Google Hangouts course, we have gone over what Google Hangouts is and how it works, and if Google Hangouts is safe. Next, we’ll talk about how much it costs to use Google Hangouts. Don’t worry; it’s not very pricey at all, unless you’re going to be using it to frequently call people in other countries around the world. We’ll explain more below.

Can I download Google Hangouts and make calls with it for free?

Google Hangouts is mostly free to use. You can use it to send text messages, phone calls, or video calls to other users for free. You can also make phone calls with standard phone numbers from Google Hangouts, which is mostly free in the United States and Canada, but usually not elsewhere.

Google Hangouts also doesn’t cost any money to download or install, and there is no limit on how much time you can spend using it, how many messages you can send, or how many calls you can make.

How much does Google Hangouts cost?

If you call a non-free phone number in the United States or Canada from Google Hangouts, the phone call will cost you 1₵/minute (USD). If you call a phone number from a country outside of North America, the cost will depend on which country you are calling, and whether you’re calling a mobile or landline phone.

If you wish to see the current per-minute rates of calling phones in non-North-American countries, visit this page for Google Voice. Then, type in the name of the country that you wish to call, select your billing currency, and select where you’re calling from.

 

That’s about all that we can tell you about the cost of Google Hangouts! In our next article, we’ll have a look at the pros and cons of Google Hangouts, to help you decide if it will be the right communication platform for your needs.

Check out the rest of our Google Hangouts course to learn more, and visit our step-by-step tutorials on how to download and install Google Hangouts, and how to use the online communication tool.


Is Google Hangouts Safe, Secure and Private?

Now that we’ve gone over what Google Hangouts is and how it works, you may be wondering whether or not it’s completely safe to use. In this article, we’ll go over how safe Google Hangouts is, and give you some tips to help you stay safe while using Google Hangouts.

Is Google Hangouts safe?

Yes, Google Hangouts is safe to use. Google Hangouts encrypts your information and conversations to protect your safety and privacy. As long as you only use it to communicate with people you already know and trust, you’ll be safe using all of the communication options on Google Hangouts.

However, some people may have safety concerns due to the particular types of encryption the software uses. Your text chat messages on Google Hangouts are also archived, much the same way that messages on various social media platforms are. So while your messages are private, Google still has a record of them.

Is Google Hangouts secure?

Yes, Google Hangouts is secure. Your conversations are encrypted so that nobody else can see or hear your conversations. However, Google does not use end-to-end encryption, so if for some reason the government requested access to your Google Hangouts conversations, Google could allow them access.

This isn’t really something that you need to worry about, though. This type of access would not be given without good reason, so unless you’re a criminal on the run, it won’t be a problem.

Is Google Hangouts private?

Google Hangouts is private, and when you send messages or have a conversation with someone on Google Hangouts, it will only be visible to you and the other person/people in the conversation. Other users will not be able to see your conversation unless you add them as a contact and invite them to join.

4 tips to stay safe using Google Hangouts

1. Don’t communicate with anyone you don’t know.

Only add or accept requests from people you know and trust, like your family and friends. You shouldn’t risk talking to anyone you don’t already know.

2. Prevent anyone else from accidentally accessing your account by signing out when you’re done using Google Hangouts.

If you happen to be using Google Hangouts on a shared/public computer or device (e.g. at a library), be sure to sign out of your Google account when you’re finished to make sure that nobody else can access your account. To sign out, click on your profile photo in the top right corner, then click Sign Out.

Google Hangouts sign out screen

3. Secure your account with a good password.

Make sure you have a strong password to protect your account in case someone tries to hack into it. Have a look at our free passwords course to learn how to make a strong, secure password.

4. If anyone happens to be bothering you on Google Hangouts, block them.

Block anyone who bothers you on Google Hangouts. If someone is trying to contact you and you don’t want them to be able to, block them to prevent them from contacting you. To block someone, hover over their name with your cursor, click the downwards arrow, then click Block.

Button to block Google Hangouts user

 

That’s all the information you need to know about the safety, privacy, and security of Google Hangouts. The next article in our Google Hangouts course will tell you about the potential costs of the communication tool.


What Google Hangouts is and How to Talk Today

Google has a lot of neat online services that make your life easier. You can send and receive emails through Gmail, store and share your computer files with Google Drive, figure out where you’re going with Google Maps, and — of course — find things on the Internet that you need to know (about) by using Google Search.

But Google also has a nifty online communication tool called Google Hangouts that allows you to exchange text messages, pictures, and videos with anyone you know who has a Google account. You can have live video chats with your Google contacts, or call phone numbers and have a phone call with virtually anyone in the world – all on your computer or mobile device!

What is Google Hangouts?

Google Hangouts is an all-in-one online communication tool, available on multiple platforms. It allows users to find contacts and send messages (or pictures or videos), and hold video chats. It also allows users to hold phone calls with standard phones, though this feature may have an added charge.

How does Google Hangouts work?

Google Hangouts works with your Google account, allowing you to communicate with your Google contacts through text messages, video chats and voice calls. A great thing about Google Hangouts is if you’re on the go, you can start a Hangouts session on your computer, and seamlessly continue it on your mobile device.

5 key features of Google Hangouts

1. Access Google Hangouts on a variety of devices.

There are lots of different platforms on which you can use Google Hangouts! You can install it as an app on your smart phone or tablet computer, or add it as an extension to your favourite Internet browser. You can also use a desktop client for it (if you have the Google Chrome web browser), or use the version that comes built-in to every Gmail account!

Google Hangouts mobile app view

2. Is free to use; you just need a Google account.

Google Hangouts is free to download and install on device you want to use it with. Plus, you can use it with a Google account, so if you already use a service like Gmail or Google Drive, you’re already all set to use Google Hangouts!

3. Share text messages, pictures, and more with your Google contacts.

Chatting with your contacts is simple enough, but why not spice things up? Add some emoticons, or take a photo of yourself or draw a picture and share that as a message. You can even sometimes share a video that you found on YouTube, or your current location from your device’s GPS signal!

Send text messages in Google Hangouts

4. Have some face time with your Google contacts with live video chat.

If you have a special camera attached to (or built into) your computer or mobile device, you can also have a face-to-face conversation with one or more of your Google Hangouts contacts via a live video feed. You can invite other people to the discussion (contacts or otherwise), or share what your computer screen looks like with everyone else in the chat!

Google Hangouts video call screen

5. Almost anyone is a phone call away through Google Hangouts.

You can also use Google Hangouts to make phone calls to almost anyone in the world, even if they aren’t one of your Google contacts! Most calls to numbers in the United States and Canada are free, and overseas calls have very affordable per-minute rates.

Google Hangouts phone call screen

The history of Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts was first introduced by Google back in 2013, as a means of replacing Google Talk and Google+ Messenger. Since Google combined its various messaging and calling interfaces into one, Google Hangouts has been able to compete with other popular messaging apps, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

How much does it cost?

Google Hangouts is free to sign up for and use. All you need is a Google account, and you’re all set! You can send text messages, photos, and make voice or video calls – all for free. If you’d like to use Google Hangouts on your mobile device or tablet, you can download the Hangouts app for free as well. 

If you want to learn more about the costs associated with using the service, check out our article on the cost of Google Hangouts here.

Is Google Hangouts safe?

Google Hangouts is generally safe to use. Messages sent and calls made through Google Hangouts are encrypted, so your privacy remains intact. For your own safety, be sure to only answer messages and call requests from people you know and trust. Other than that, you should be all good! To learn more about the safety of Google Hangouts, read our article here.

Pros and Cons of Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is great because it’s really an all-in-one communication tool – it allows users to send each other text messages and photos, and make video or voice calls. It’s also easily accessible on a variety of devices, so you can use it at home or on-the-go! If you have an account for Gmail, YouTube, or one of Google’s other services, you’re already all set to use Google Hangouts. Best of all, the service is completely free.

On the negative side, although it’s great that it can be used on lots of different devices, it’s a little inconsistent in terms of how it functions on different devices, which can be a bit of a pain. Also, since Google Hangouts requires you to have/create a Google account, you’ll end up getting tied into using Google’s other services as well – this isn’t really a con if you enjoy using Google’s services anyway, but if you only want to use Hangouts it could be a little annoying.

Alternatives to Google Hangouts

There are tons of online communication tools available, so if Google Hangouts isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t worry. Another option you might want to consider is Skype, which is owned and run by Microsoft. Other great alternatives include WeChat and Viber. You can learn about these alternatives and a few more if you check out our article on the best alternatives to Google Hangouts.

 

If you’re already a big fan of Google’s products, then Google Hangouts is a natural inclusion for your lineup of Google-powered productivity tools. In the rest of our Google Hangouts course, we’ll show you how to download and install the app, how to use each of its basic functions, and whatever else you’ll need to become a Hangouts instant pro!