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The new Hangouts and Google Voice - two important points of information from +Nikhyl Singhal
Hangouts, phone calls and Google Voice

Thanks for all of your feedback on last week's Hangouts launch. I wanted to quickly talk about 1) making/receiving phone calls in Gmail, and 2) Google Voice support more generally.

1) Today's version of Hangouts doesn't yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail.

2) Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly.
Chad LaFarge's profile photoDori Storbeck's profile photoSheila B. DuBois's profile photoVasanth TT's profile photo
All I need to know.  Thanks for the info!
I wouldn't go that far, Hangouts is great, but it's not perfect by any means yet.
So... It seems impossible now to start a hangout on air (HOA) with just the host in it.

+Sheila B. DuBois what are they struggling with specifically? Initiating a hangout, joining one, is it just the chat part or the video? Maybe we can give you some tips to help them out! 
It didn't work for me. I would be super happy if this was not the case.

Yesterday, I tried to start an HOA using the navigation on the left. It forced me to initiate a "video call" with someone in order to start the HOA. I couldn't start an HOA that only included the host and no one else.
+Brandon Petaccio   hover of the  home button for the drop down to see  Hangouts on Air. click on that. and in the middle of the screen to the right is the  Start a Hangout on Air.
+Brandon Petaccio Once you click the "Start a Hangout On Air" button that +Sheila B. DuBois pointed you to above, you will need to 1. Name your HOA, and 2. Invite yourself. Then the green "Start Hangout On Air" button will become clickable and you can host an HOA with just yourself as the sole participant.
Ok, I see it today. Yesterday, the same button on the left opened up an area on the right side of the browser window where it wanted me to start a "video call". Was working on this with three people, they can all attest that it was completely different yesterday when we tried. Glad that it's back to normal (and improved) today... for whatever reason.

Well it's not just a matter of not seeing where things are in the new layout... The behavior today when clicking the HOA button on the left is completely different than it was yesterday. I don't know what that was all about, but I'm glad it's doing what it's supposed to today.
Thank you! I've been using Google Voice exclusively since it came out. Looking forward to it getting back on the conveyer belt. :)
+Dori Storbeck *Please* consider making the separation of online and online groups of contacts a priority. And perhaps a way to not see the millions of people I do not know when looking through my contacts list. Just make them visible in a "add contact" context.
Looking forward to full Google Voice integration...especially if that includes VoIP capabilities for the mobile app. The lack of native VoIP support for Voice's Android app is glaringly obvious if you're used to having it right at your fingertips in-browser.

Oh, also, could you please tell Larry Page that we'd all really like Google to buy/build a carrier so that we can have one that actually wants us to have internet access everywhere. Thanks.
+Xan Bertison You can see whether someone's online (they'll have a green line under their photo). But yes, it's not very pronounced and it would be nice to show only people who are online... Or at least order by status....
+Kent Dodds  Exactly!!!!!   I want to see who is online... not second guess if they are or not. and that little green line does not show much 
I don't get the whole "online/offline" thing.  I mean, when IMing was a new thing that designation had significance.  After all, it's not like people were in front of their computers all the time.  However, this is 2013.  We're on our computers, our tablets, and we carry our smartphones with us everywhere.  "Offline?"  That doesn't exist anymore.

Do you check to make sure a person has their phone in their hand before you send them a text, or do you just send it?  Yeah, that's what I thought.
have to say that Facebook has a better messenger...
In basic functionality, I'm inclined to agree. There are many basics that have never worked right for me with Google's messengers. They have all of these features, but with hangouts for example... On mobile, it NEVER works on the first try... or the second, or the third... The link pops up in talk, but takes you to a mobile site, and no hangout is initiated until, randomly, on the 5th or 6th attempt. Meanwhile, nobody knows who's trying to do the re-attempt... it's just chaos and incredibly frustrating.

We've just stopped using Hangouts in my family until basic functionality "just works"... nifty little extra features notwithstanding.

Granted, I have not yet tried the standalone app, so maybe some of these issues have been resolved. I just... I don't ever feel like risking the hassle it may require to find out...
+Dori Storbeck +Nikhyl Singhal Good to hear. Now all we need is a better view of contact availability ( a la the Talk app with green, orange, red, etc) and the ability to filter or choose which contacts we want to be visible. I don't need 500 contacts in the list, particularly when I will never chat or hangout with 475 of them.
There isn't an option to set your status as offline in Hangouts, but it does allow you to "Snooze" notifications if u are "busy". This places the responsibility on the recipient to set the "Snooze" option if they are offline.

Why can't we sort contacts by Online status, like every other messenging application? Right now, the contact list just has hundreds of entries, and I have to check if a contact is "greyed" out to know they're offline...
Really looking forward to Google Voice integration. Thank you!! :-D 
Dare I hope for a Twilio-like backend for Voice?!? Get me into some telephony API goodness!!!
+Jonathan Li this is a popular feature request I've received from a lot of users and I can let the team know. Right now, you can tell if your contacts are online on a desktop computer by a green line under their profile picture. We don't currently show any availability indicators for users on mobile.
+Dori Storbeck that little green line is hard to see. And the only way to tell if they arr online is to just send a message one by one. I don't want to search for them. And I don't want to see the blue heads from my address book showing up as they are not gmail users. And not on g+ 
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