July 31, 2013
Update: Just after posting this, I opened the app and was greeted by the ‘Get started’ button once again. So the only difference in the latest version is that I haven’t gotten a pop-up telling me the app crashed or forcing me to re-install. Progress?
Google Hangouts for iOS was updated yesterday. This is the 3rd or 4th version of the app. It was first released in May during Google I/O. My fingers are crossed that this one will actually work.
I was really pleased when Google finally announced Hangouts (the expanded chat version, Hangouts was already an awesome launch feature of Google+). I’ve been waiting forever for a chat service that would work seamlessly between desktop and mobile, have group chat, and be something that my friends would actually use. Google had a bunch of different messaging platforms going at the same time and they didn’t work well between platforms and there was no first-party app for iOS.
The short overview is that everything is saved by Google. So wherever you load the service (web or app) you have access to all your conversations. So you can start on one platform and continue on another without having to do anything else. Group chats work exactly the same. You can also share pictures and join Hangouts from the app. It’s built in to Gmail and Google+, so a lot of people will have access to it without any effort.
The web version has worked well since it launched, but the iOS app, not so much. When actually using it, I didn’t have any major problems. The notification counter on the app icon was never correct, but that was tolerable. The problem was that every few days I would open the app and it would tell me it crashed. It must have crashed in the background because I never had it crash while using it. I’d have to login again after the crash, which was pretty annoying, especially with two-factor authentication. After a few rounds of that, the crash message would tell me that it couldn’t recover and I had to reinstall the app. I pretty much gave up on it a month ago. This one hasn’t given me that issue, although it’s only been a day. It does linger on the splash screen long enough for the ‘Get Started’ button to appear, but then it loads the recent conversations.
On the web I’ve found the best ways to be through Gmail or Google+. I liked the Google+ version a little better. It has a larger font and it’s much less likely that the chat window will interfere with something I want to see on Google+, because there is so little to see there. That’s also why I haven’t used it much, there isn’t enough on Google+ for me to always have it open in a tab.
In Gmail, it works just fine. I’d recommend the Right-Side Chat Lab in Gmail. It does what it says and puts a column to the right of your Gmail window with your recent chats. I like this a lot better than just having a few contacts listed in whatever space is available on the left side.
There is also a Chrome app that gives you a buddy list-like view that is detached from the main window. It might be an option if I used Chrome.
March 13, 2016
February 20, 2016