Google Hangouts

There are several major players in the messaging marketplace today. The predominant players include Microsoft with its acquisition of Skype, Apple with its FaceTime application and Google with the fledgling Hangouts application that was born out of Google Chat. Also, to be considered, is the various segmented players in the SMS and voice messaging areas. Verizon is a sleeper with its network specific product offerings including Messages+ that supports SMS syncing across multiple (up to 6 devices) platforms including Apple's IPod/IPhone, Desktops and Android Tablets and phones. Each product has its own debilitating aspects. Apple's Facetime is limited to own family of products. While Skype is multi-platform, it suffers its own performance issues (see previous post) as well as lacking real-time integration with SMS. To get to the fully-"Integrated" inbox, you end up looking at Corporate VOIP providers and spending a significant investment.

Google Voice has matured over the past couple of years and has earned the respect in its stability and flexibility. Google Voice provides the user with the virtual PBX. Call routing, support for multiple networks and handsets, and voicemail translations are the key features. Google Voice was born out of Google's acquisition of Grand Central and since has grown to over 3.5 million subscribers.

One of the biggest shortcomings of Google Voice has been the ability to assign one handset to more than one Google Voice account. If you wanted to route your Google voice Work number to your personal cellphone after hours, you could not use Google Voice for the handset's voicemail and SMS. Additionally, you could not answer a call on a different device out of the Google Voice interface. SMS was supported but not calling functionality.

With the new release of Google Hangouts featuring the Google Voice functionality, they have addressed the major concerns of the past and more importantly, created a very compelling product. As an example, I have my google voice work number now integrated with Google Hangouts and its companion "Google Hangouts" dialer. When this Google Voice number is called, it will simultaneously ring on all devices that I have turned on Google Hangouts for that specific account. This includes any Android Tablets, IPad Tablets, and most importantly cellphones (and Google Hangouts plugin for Google Chrome). I now can take Google Voice calls on my personal cell phone without having to surrender the Google Voicemail functionality. SMS support mirrors that of the Google Voice capabilities.

SMS messages will reach any Google Hangouts client in real time with full support for message response and syncing across all of the devices.  If you left your phone in the other room, downstairs, in your car, it will not matter. The messages will reach you with your Google Hangouts application. Google Hangouts continues to provide the core functionality of Google Chat messaging. The latest addition to the chat functionality is called "Hangouts On Air". This provides the ability to broadcast to an audience and even record the webcast for review and playback by the public. For the telecommuter and for the travel executive, Google Hangouts now provides a robust and universal inbox for your communication needs. For myself, now the next challenge will be porting my personal cell number to Google Voice.

About Sprawlgeek.
A Seasoned Technology Visionary possessing a deep understanding of technology and business processes.

Doug has accumulated over 35 years of experience in the technology and media markets. His broad career has ranged from leading Research and Development work for a 300+ million dollar company to an E-Government startup. His efforts have been recognized by major trade associations as well as Tier 1 clients.

Doug is now a private consultant and continues to provide his insights to the industry.