The Google built app that I use the most across all my devices is Hangouts, it’s a good app that could and should be amazing. I am holding out hope that one day Google will start to realise it’s potential and build the messaging client we all need. Unfortunately Google's CEO doesn't think there's anything wrong with the position Hangouts is in: “At that level, we view communications as an important area. But that doesn’t mean the answer is always a vertical service, I think we are comfortable with where we are.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2015/02/26/exclusive-pichai-on-googles-vision-mobile-revenue-apple-and-china/#6cac6fb63661
I think the biggest failing of Hangouts is that Google built the best features into the desktop version and forgot that everyone was using the mobile versions. Quick question, what makes Hangouts special or unique as a messaging client? What sets it apart from services like Telegram or WhatsApp? As a messaging client Hangouts does nothing special, as a video chat client on mobile the one special feature is ten way video chat.
On desktop Hangouts has many many special features:
Special Effects - This is where you get to play virtual dress up, you can wear a pretend hat, glasses, moustache. You can even wear things like cat or dog faces or add a halo or devil horns. These effects go a long to remove the awkwardness that come with video chats, they are silly but a lot of fun and kids absolutely love them. There is also a drawing app where you could draw on your own face, again silly but fun. Just look at what Snapchat achieves with the same feature.
Drive – The Collaborative features in the Google Drive apps are near perfect, this app goes one step further by letting you see and hear the people you are working with. This should be more popular but the Google+ requirement keeps businesses away.
Youtube –This app enables real time watching of videos between multiple people, when one person pauses the video the video pauses for everyone. You can have a discussion about a video, just like if you were all in the same room together. Google have also added the ability to cast any movie to a Hangout: http://www.androidpolice.com/2015/05/23/some-chrome-users-can-now-cast-tabs-directly-to-video-hangouts-sessions/
Backgrounds – Although this feature never left the experimental stage and never worked as well as it should have done it was still pretty cool. You could change your background to look like you was at different locations like the beach or Venice. Again gimmicky and silly but still a great feature to show off what Hangouts can do, things like this put smiles on people’s faces and that is what Video Chat should do.
Auto Awesome – Now this is where Hangouts got clever, if the application determines that it can improve the video experience by boosting or reducing the brightness of the subject’s face it will do. This was borrowed from the photo Auto enhance feature built into Google+. It’s a perfect feature to have in a live video broadcast because it’s impossible for a human to manually enhance video quality on the fly.
Third party apps – Hangouts allowed third party apps to work in Hangouts, from role playing games to DJ apps https://youtu.be/InM7YnYQfM4 & quizes https://youtu.be/RfBQpkzzfwc . Seeing and hearing the people brought an extra level to these Apps.
Screenshare - great app for providing technical help, you could share your screen and highlight on the screen where your issues are. You can even give remote access to an other user with the Remote Desktop Hangouts app. Screenshare is also a great app for creating tutorials and giving presentations.
Hangouts On Air – described by a famous newsreporter as like having a satelite truck in your pocket. You can broadcast live to the world - this extension is the best in its class, it included a Q & A app where everyone can submit and vote on the best questions, the current question being answered is highlighted to let late comers know what the subject is. An applause app for letting watchers give a thumbs up and thumbs down with a timeline on the video letting people know which part of the video got the most reactions. Great broadcasting with fantastic moderation tools. Google really beat periscope, Meerkat and Facebook to the punch but never capitalised on the market.
My wish is for these features to leave Google+ and become part of both Hangouts.com and the mobile hangouts Apps. I mean at the minute these features make little sense now that Google+, Hangouts and YouTube have all been separated: https://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/everything-in-its-right-place.html?m=1 Currently you need to start from a desktop browser, have a Google+ account for a product called Hangouts that uploads to YouTube. Making these hangout features more friendly with other social networks also wouldn't hurt 😉
It's like the do-over started from then but unlike the other services the lag on Hangouts got worse since the newly designed app. Taking and uploading a photo on the new app is horrible.
I hope by removing SMS Support the performance improves.