Hangouts for iPhone and iPad review: Google+ cross-platform messaging service

Hangouts by Google for iPhone review

Hangouts for iPhone and iPad is Google's new cross-platform messaging app that lets you converse with your friends regardless of what phone, tablet, or computer they are using. It features a beautiful, clean design and support for video messaging.

The chat view in Hangouts is very traditional and flat with some subtle shading. Your messages and picture are on the right and everyone else is on the left. All users' chat bubbles are the same color, so only the picture distinguishes users from each other; something I actually like. It's simple

Tapping a user's photo will take you to their profile which includes everything they've made available on Google+, including work history, basic information, education, and more.

Video chatting with Hangouts is super easy, looks great, and also sounds crisp and clear. I had a quick conversation with Rene while he was in a noisy environment, yet I had no problem hearing or understanding him.

Google Hangouts also gives you control over who gets to hangout with you and who must send a request. You can also choose to automatically snooze notifications after 1-72 hours and block specific users.

The good

  • Clean design
  • Cross-platform
  • Group conversation support
  • Video chat support
  • Get notifications only once. After you see an alert, it disappears from other devices.
  • Snooze notifications
  • Save history
  • View collections of photos shared from each Hangout
  • Emoji support
  • Connect to Messages for Mac with Jabber
  • Universal for iPhone and iPad

The bad

  • Requires Google+, a simple Gmail account is not enough
  • Can't set your status/availability
  • No sound when new message comes in
  • No SMS integration. This is not a fault of Google, but rather of iOS API limitations, but it's still a bummer.

The bottom line

If you chat with friends on Google Talk or Google+ often, then Hangouts is awesome and you should definitely pick it up.

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 48 comments. Add yours.

richard451 says:

you may want to add that it removed XMPP support. kind of a big deal.

ame says:

Yea the Google+ Account requirement is absolutely infuriating. I have no interest in that, and it's forcing it every time.

IIJBII says:

I agree. I don't have Google and I'm not interested in getting it. I wish this worked wo requiring Google .

exwindzzz says:

Then Google wouldnt really have a reason to make something like this then.

ame says:

The reason they should make it is for people to use google talk on iPhone. That's the app they need and should've made.

snookasnoo says:

Hah. Right. That's why they had Google Talk for years before this with an open API,. Nobody is using their lousy social networking site so they decided to force people Ono it to use apps like this.

Ben Pike says:

A Google service that requires a Google account..... sounds reasonable to me.

ame says:

Google account is not the same as Google+. Requiring a Google account would be fine. But requiring a Google+, which most people don't use or want to use, is idiotic.

Hugo V says:

A Google+ account *is* a Google account. Google+ *is* Google. A Google account that hasn't yet been upgraded to the new feature set is a crippled Google account.

snookasnoo says:

Keep drinking that KoolAid.

cardfan says:

It's a deal breaker really. The whole point is android users having this by default. And they don't..

Nicholas Kathrein says:

Actually that's not true. All new phones purchased starting in the next few months will come with this preinstalled. The reason they are not building this into Android is because of the fragmentation. Trying to get the carriers and phone manufactures to update to new versions of Android is like pulling teeth. So they decided to make a push to do the improvements with the apps they make so that everyone can get it. Even if you have Android 2.3 you'll be able to get Hangouts. If they just built it in to 4.3 then no one would get it unless they bought a new phone. Ohh, sms will be integrated into hangouts for Android in the next few months and they'll just have to update the app. Much better way of doing things. And I all am in chrome now with the hangouts add-on and a call came to my phone and it offered to let me take the call on my computer. Very cool. I am a Google voice subscriber.

CORYK333 says:

Thanks for that breakdown. Your comment cleared a few things up that I was curious about

snookasnoo says:

Plent of ways to do that without this. Enjoy Google getting more of your personal data.

Nicholas Kathrein says:

I gladly give Google my data. Without it Google Now wouldn't work. I understand for Google to make the products they do that I use cost money. They have teams all over the world working to make things I use every day like GMAIL and G Maps and stuff I hope to get someday like Google Fiber and self driving cars. Every company has to make money and if Google ran its business like Apple I'd have to pay a lot of money for the stuff they offer. You think Apple decided to make its own maps because Google is evil. Heck no. They know how valuable location data is and want it for themselves. Google was willing to put navigation into the old app but Google wanted to be able to make something for offering the service because it costs money. They wanted the location data and Apple wanted that for themselves. See the data becomes less valuable when to companies have the same data. They end up on a race to bottom for who will buy that data. If you don't want your data being used so Google can pay for it's products then don't use them.

parabel says:

That's great and all, and I might even use it some time for a group video call, but basically nobody is on Google+ that I would want to contact. So for now, the Facebook messaging feature/app is still the best cross-platform chat tool for me (besides WhatsApp, but that only includes phones).

NWNirvana says:

Nothing beats iMessage and FaceTime for me.

MSfromtheOC says:

We should also note that Google Voice has been ignored in the new Hangouts. We should assume that it will be abandoned soon.

ELavar says:

I disagree. They will be updating it soon to include Google Voice, as well.

MSfromtheOC says:

I did not get to watch the full 3 1/2 hour keynote presentation. But not one of the news reports that I read or heard mentioned GV in any way. Did you hear the keynote, or are you basing your comment on some other info?

richard451 says:

Google mines too much data to give GV up. It's worth too much for Google to leave.

MSfromtheOC says:

We're all guessing here... me too. But, Google has become much more dependent on carriers. And I'm sure that carriers still don't appreciate GV as an alternative to voice calls.

But one fact to note, the Google Status page (http://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en&v=status&ts=1368757848696) does not even list GV as one of the key apps.

m_thoroughbred says:

Carriers could care less about GV. Why? Cause GV still uses the minutes on your plan to be able to connect voice calls.

eahinrichsen says:

GV gives unlimited SMS for free, though. For me, it's saving me at least ten bucks a month that I'd otherwise have to give AT&T if I wanted SMS.

CORYK333 says:

But doesn't it use your "data" to send those messages? So carriers will have no problem with that bc instead of going against your SMS, it goes against your data plan (which is the new way the carriers f us). I know there is wifi & there are unlimited plans....just saying GV has to use SOMETHING to send your stuff & no way will carriers not get a piece of that pie (even if it is a very small SMS sized piece in terms of data used)

--on another note, Google Voice is a freakin' godsend for me with work. Being able to call customers while I'm on the road from that # & not have them get my regular cell # (which they would end up calling off business hours) is just great.

codemonkey85 says:

"Being able to call customers while I'm on the road from that # & not have them get my regular cell # (which they would end up calling off business hours) is just great."

Finally, someone who does it right! I just give out my GV number without worrying at this point... there's always the option to filter and / or mark as spam if things get out of hand.

Nicholas Kathrein says:

I am in chrome browser now with the hangouts add-on and a call came to my phone and it offered to let me take the call on my computer. Very cool. I am a Google voice subscriber. I think this maybe Google voice tied into hangouts. How else would I get the option to take a cell phone call at my computer?

vassago says:

It actually does make a sound when a new message comes in. However if you send a link the URL is not clickable.

prhammer says:

On my iPad clicking on a link gives me the options to open in Chrome, Safari (or in the case of YouTube video) or YouTube app.

DarkJediKnight says:

Nothing special, to me! It’s just another IM client that MOST of my friends are not on. Google Chat had some steam when it came out on Gmail. Google took too long to make it mobile and now there are too many other apps or IM clients that do the same thing. Email is dying and a lot of people don’t use desktop mail like they use too which made the use of Google Chat fade. All of my friends are on Facebook and they either message me on FB, write on my wall or text me. I installed this app and deleted it today.

Dev from tipb says:

Another good thing is that the conversations themselves are synced/available on all devices.

And a second vote for the abandonment of vanilla interoperable xmpp as a bad thing.

kazmi says:

Actually it does work in a very rudimentary way way with GV. I was chatting and I saw a call come in to my GV no on the Hangouts app. However there was no way of knowing that it was coming from my GV no. Sort of perplexing since I thought GV was not integrated.

MSfromtheOC says:

If your GV settings were set to forward your calls to Google Chat it might have come in that way, were you able to answer the call?

Leo141 says:

The features are great but the requirement of G is absurd. No one from my contacts uses it so hangouts still doesn't replace whatsapp.

cardfan says:

And that's the problem. If even android users don't have this preinstalled on their devices or integrated with their phones, then there's no point in it for other platform users.

afra33 says:

this is one crappy messaging app! i can't believe google is sooooooo retarted!!!! they should have just bought whatsapp and viber!

EleventhHour2139 says:

Tell you what would have REALLY sent them over the edge, if they spelled retarded "retarted." Irony.

But yes, I wish they would've included other functionalities as well. At least sms that was also compatible with google voice.

Nicholas Kathrein says:

I have whats app and it's no where near as good as hangouts. Can you do video chats with up to 10 people. Does it allow you to send messages from a computer. Hell, this even saves your chats if you want so days later if you have a group of friends you always talk to you can continue your conversations without manually inviting them back into a group chat. Soory by your wrong on this big time. Also all those people how don't use google +. Who cares. Don't use it. Just sign up and your friends and never use google +. Your just signing up. You don't have to install g+ app. You don't have to log in on the web except to add the people you want to talk to. Once thats done then your done.

theKHMERboy says:

And here is another messaging app for no reason.. I think it's cool but at the same time useless.. Like if u can't iMessage someone cause they don't have iPhone can't you just txt them instead of downloading an app that gonna take up space in your phone but does the exact same thing txting would do? I don't understand sometimes

moroboshi says:

It's really very simple if you think about it for a few seconds. Hangouts is multi-platform, including PCs/Macs, and it works anywhere there is a data connection.

So a Windows user can send a message to a friend who has an Android phone. When the Windows guy goes out, he can pick up the same conversation, with the history fully synced, on his iPhone, even though the Android guy has just got home and switched to his Mac.

Cross platform is a wonderful thing.

pinpoint007 says:

It doesn't integrate with Google+ messenger (at least in the iOS app)...so that's kinda lame.

eahinrichsen says:

It doesn't integrate with G+ Messenger in Android, either. Google has said that G+ Messenger is going to be phased out.

moroboshi says:

I've been playing with this since it came out, and it's good, but buggy.

Messages can be slow to arrive, the badges on the app icon often don't go away when messages are viewed, there are only 2 lines to type into making it hard to type longer messages, and it doesn't work well at all with iOS's standard dragging cursor movement. To cap it all, links aren't even links, they're just text.

But it looks beautiful, and I like how it integrates with G+ and the recently released Hangouts plugin for Chrome on the desktop.

creativeopinion says:

Requires Google+? Sorry, i'm out.

mule0331 says:

I would have to disagree about having to use google +. I have loaded hangouts on my wifes 5, my daughters 4s and neither had to log onto or into g+. Now granted you DO have to have a gmail account, which in turn has g+ built into it, but neither had to do anything with G+ to get hangouts to work.

Wayne Rigley says:

NO YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A GMAIL ACCOUNT...

go to ( no spaces ) w m t h o m e dotcom and read under waynes blog for the link to sign in without creating a gmail account

Syed Mohammed Ameen says:

Google Voice Now Features Calling In Hangouts Without Using Google+
Check Easy review - http://goo.gl/EZjP1E