Google+ underwent a series of changes and redesigns last week as part of a reshuffle that featured a big push for ‘Google+ Hangouts’. For users of the platform, the most significant change was that Google+ Hangouts would become a standalone platform – no longer only accessible through the company’s social network. The service would operate similar to Skype, it could be used for text messaging and video chat as well as making phone calls including soon-to-be-released outbound calling; something that the search giant was already providing with its Google Voice platform.
The fact that Hangouts are now mimicking functionality that already exists on Voice suggests that a merger of the two platforms is coming. And product developer Nikhyl Singhal confirmed these suspicions by announcing that “Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning.”
New Google+ Hangouts
Google has had a history of phasing out or merging products. It’s no mistake that they keep doing this; part of Google’s success is down to them casting the product development net incredibly wide while experimenting and testing heavily. It’s worked for them in the past, but the costs of doing this must be absolutely phenomenal. So in this instant, has the cost been worth it? Well their new promotional video (above) doesn’t show anything new, the functionality has existed on Skype and iOS for years; in fact the video itself is strikingly low budget for Google. But Hangouts have always offered a more flexible messaging service than any other platform, the fact that you can now do this from a standalone app is good enough for me.