It is undeniable that Google Hangouts is one of the most important apps now created by Google. It is so important that other mobile operating systems are happily integrating the messaging app into their own list of functions and features.
Recently, Google Hangouts received its first major iOS update since October 2013. That’s a long time for app updates, considering how most of these apps are getting a makeover almost each month. Still, the improvements are making apple users, especially those with IPads, pretty happy.
What’s new in this release, in brief:
- Emoji or animated stickers.
- Cleaner, two-panel layout.
- Tabs at the bottom for easier navigation.
- 10-second video message capabilities which can be left for offline users for later viewing.
- Google Maps integration which lets people in your conversation know your exact location.
If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it before in another messaging app. Probably What’sapp if you’re a big fan of Facebook. While the changes are not exactly earth-shattering, most iPad users are happy to see Google Hangouts catching up with the trend. For those who are in the loop, it now looks like a full-on mobile messaging war.
A Closer Look
Whatsapp was probably one of the first mobile messaging apps to incorporate a wide multitude of animated emoticons, but Yahoo Messenger (remember Yahoo?) began the trend some 9 or 10 years ago. Today’s generation of teens and adults-who-still-think-like-teens are so into expressive typefaces and animation features that, emoticons or emojis have become an integral part of their written language. As some open-minded scholars might dub, emojis are fast becoming a sort of punctuation. Thanks to texting and chatting, it’s close to impossible for most of us to end a sentence without a smiley.
However, while Google Hangouts did integrate animated emojis into their upgrade, we’re hoping for something more spectacular in the months to come. It won’t hurt for them to invest in fun, high quality, and competitive animation. Google Hangouts, from the onset, did support video calling while other messaging apps were lagging behind. That’s a good sign. Skype beat them to the 10-second video messaging upgrade, though.
Location, location, location
And while most users are probably only too happy to welcome Google Hangouts’ GPS capabilities, a lot of us who are concerned about security are expected to be a bit rattled. Google does have prompts, though, asking users if it’s alright for the operating system to detect their exact location. The problem here is if this information falls on the wrong hands.
I’ll bet seventy five per cent at least of mobile messaging users really don’t care. They’re having way too much fun, and their expressive emojis reflect their approval of the spotlight. It’s alright for everyone to know where they are because, after all, they did announce it, right?
There’s a thin line between publicly announcing a thought on Facebook, though, and sharing your location to only a handful of trusted friends. Let’s hope Google Hangouts doesn’t do anything to rattle their oversharing market.