The Google Hangouts 5.0 update has been rolling out to most Android phones. The update comes with some key features that could put the app in direct competition with Skype.
The newly released Google Hangouts 5.0 update has addressed several issues that users have mentioned on previous versions. According to tech blog Phandroid, issues about its scrolling lag and GIF display are now fixed. You can finally use GIFs to express yourself on Google Hangouts without any issues. The app update also removes Google’s Dogfood Icon.
The tech news site also noted that the Google Hangouts 5.0 update provides for a much “faster user experience,” although it “doesn’t bring as many sweeping changes as 4.0 did,” according to contributor Quentyn Kennemer. The Hangouts 4.0 update gave users a revamped design, a new compose button, and faster messaging times. It looks like Hangouts 5.0 is even faster than its predecessor, according to Kennemer’s review.
“Conversations are quick to load, and it’s just as quick to scroll through them. We get a new brief splash screen for the app’s first boot.”
Another noted changed is the removal of the Hangouts 3×3 widget, however, it’s not clear why the tech giant decided to do away with it.
“Google left an actual widget in the app’s code, but only to alert users that it’s no longer available. Good for those who otherwise wonder why there’s a big empty space where their Hangouts widget is supposed to be.”
It’s unclear if the Google Hangouts 5.0 update will roll out to iPhone lovers who may not like using Skype and other voice calling apps. It’s already getting mixed reactions from some of its own Android users. Some are happy that the scrolling lag is finally fixed, whereas others have called the update “useless.”
“Another useless update from the most useless team at Google — The Hangouts team,” writes MrRobot320
On the APK Mirror, Paul Hansen wrote, “Honestly all I care about is that it got rid of the scrolling lag.”
But according to the tech site 360 News, the Hangouts 5.0 update is supposed to fix most of the things that are happening under the hood. It’s not really supposed to bring any new features, except for showing checkboxes in the signature green color. Another new feature is that the “signed in as” pop-up screen will not appear if the user only has one Hangouts account on his or her Android phone.
Users can also compose their MMS (multi-media messaging service) messages for Google Voice users directly on the Hangouts app. This feature was only made available for those who had a Google Voice number.
Now it looks like Skype has taken a page out of the Google Hangouts book. They added a new feature that makes Google’s app much more desirable, and that’s the shareable chat links feature. That means you can now chat with anyone on Skype, not just the people on your contact list.
Still confused? This new feature means that you will no longer have to manually add contacts in order to chat with them. Once you updated to the latest version of Skype, click on the +New button and invite anyone in the world to join a Skype chat by sharing your unique link. You can share your hyperlink on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp Messenger, Kik Messenger, Snapchat, and so forth.
Once the person clicks the link, they can join your Skype conversation no matter how they’re using Skype. This new feature is available for Android, iOS, Mac, Skype for Web, or Windows. The only downside to this feature is that it’s only available to users in the U.S. and the U.K. Also, the Skype app on some mobile devices doesn’t have the support to start a conversation and share a link, but Microsoft says that this feature will roll out soon. As for “the rest of the world,” they will have to wait “over the next couple of weeks.”
Now a link is all you need to chat with people on Skype. This will make the popular video calling service just as easy to use as Google Hangouts.
What are your thoughts on the Google Hangouts 5.0 update and Skype’s new shareable links feature? Which service do you prefer to use? Share your thoughts below in the comments section?
[Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]