Google Hangouts gets its own website to rival Facebook Messenger
Google has announced a new website today, but it isn’t for a new service.
The new portal is for the popular Instant Messaging service, Google Hangouts.
Don’t worry, Hangouts is still available in Gmail, as well as in Google+. The new website however should eliminate the need for having one of the aforementioned websites, open in your browser, just to have a chat with your friend on Hangouts.
You can access the Google Hangouts Website from this link.
And this is what the web portal of Hangouts looks like:
Even though the website looks like a totally different experience, it is not so. The Google Hangouts lets you send photos, maps, emoji, stickers and GIFs to your friends.
There are three large buttons in the center of the website:
- Video Call
- Phone Call
Hangouts Video Calls are free and can be made from one account to another. The only requirements are that you install the Hangouts Plugin (also free), and that both users have a device with a front camera. The plugin is available for computers running on Windows XP and above, as well as in machines running Mac OSX 10.5 and above, and for Linux PCs. Up to 10 people can participate in a group video call.
Hangouts Phone Calls are not free, and the call rates differ depending on the Country. You can make phone calls from a computer to any phone number.
Message is the instant messaging service, which has made Google Hangouts so popular. In case you weren’t aware, it was previously called “Google Talk”, before the Mountain View company renamed the service to Hangouts, a few years ago.
On the left hand side of the Hangouts website, are your conversations, from the web as well as from mobile apps. Clicking on a contact’s name, loads the conversation window in the bottom right corner, just like in Gmail/Google+.
The top right corner of the Hangouts website, just like the webpages of other Google services, houses the shortcuts to its other web products. It also has the Google Bell button, which allows you to view notifications from Google+, and account settings/logout/switch options.
The top left corner hosts a hamburger menu which opens a sidebar when clicked, which in turn has shortcuts for Google Contacts, Conversations, and Phone Calls, as well as links to download the mobile apps of Hangouts.
One thing is certain, the Google Hangouts website is targeted at Facebook’s Messenger website, which was launched a few months ago. It is rumoured that Facebook plans to unleash MEssenger as an independent platform, but it is unclear if Google would do the same for Hangouts.