On the new Google Hangouts

During its 17 three hour keynote today, Google announced a ton of stuff, but the new Hangouts is the most interesting one to me. Since Myke and others have left the Internet, iOS, iMessages hasn’t been as helpful to me as it once was.

The Verge has hailed the new apps as “big fix for Google’s messaging mess”, but here on Day One, that just really isn’t that true.

The iOS app is buggy. URLs aren’t always clickable, and I’ve had it crash a couple of times already. It is, however, much faster than Facebook’s Messenger app.

According to that Verge article, Hangouts isn’t built on the XMPP standard, as Google Talk is. While Talk will eventually go away, it’s been the go-to Google chat service for years.

Apple’s Messages.app support Google Talk out of the box. Currently, Google Talk sees incoming Hangout messages, but replies made in the iOS app (or on the web) don’t sync up with Messages.

Now, most people will use Hangout on the web or on their phones, but it’s disappointing to see this half-baked backwards compatibility for those of us who want to use the service via a native application. Google should have either made sure Talk users could send and receive Hangout messages, or have drawn a line in the sand, cutting off Talk-only users from the new service.

If Google and Apple can’t update Messages to work with the new back-end system, I’d like to see Google release a Mac app.

Updated: Apparently, there’s a Chrome extension. That helps.

All in all, I think Hangouts can be a real competitor to iMessage and Facebook Messenger, but as it stands today, it’s a little rough around the edges.

Sadly, that’s what I’ve come to expect from Google.