Everyone expected Google's new Hangouts feature – the long-rumored Babel service – to put an end to multiple messenger applications. We hoped it would combine GTalk, Google+ Messenger, and Google Voice at the very least. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what we got... yet, anyway.


According to a recent Google+ post by Nikhyl Singhal, manager of real-time communication products (like Hangouts) for Google, that could start to change very soon. Firstly, Singhal addressed the removal of outgoing calls for Google voice, stating that "they're working hard to support both [inbound and outbound] calls," and they should both be available soon. Good new for Voice junkies, no doubt.

Singhal went on to address where Hangouts is heading, calling it the "future of Google Voice" – a pretty big promise. Looks like Google may have plans to fully replace Voice with Hangouts, as phone calls are "just the beginning" and "future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly."

Now if Big G will throw the stock SMS/MMS app into the mix as well, we'll really have an integrated unified messaging service.

Here's Singhal's statement in its entirety:

Hangouts, phone calls and Google Voice
Thanks for all of your feedback on last week's Hangouts launch. I wanted to quickly talk about 1) making/receiving phone calls in Gmail, and 2) Google Voice support more generally.

1) Today's version of Hangouts doesn't yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail.

2) Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly.

Nikhyl Singhal (Google+)

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    yeah....so pretty much the same thing we've been hearing since the release of Hangout.

  • skitchbeatz

    To be agile you sometimes have to get your product into the market and solicit feedback and observe its use. Hangouts was a good update to Talk. Now they just have to bolt on the necessary feature set to have a fully polished product.

    • Safwan Chowdhury

      i actually thought it was a terrible update to gtalk. i downgraded mine back to gtalk within a day of trying it out

      • skitchbeatz

        I guess to each their own: http://www.xkcd.com/1172/

        • Safwan Chowdhury

          my main issue was the lack of easily seeing who is online/offline and their status. gtalk is the primary way i chat to people but i only do it when i can talk to them instantly. hangouts really messed up my chat contacts list. instead of having 20-30 contacts shown i now have 1400ish contacts displayed and it is a real pain to navigate

          • http://twitter.com/samhorne Samuel Horne

            You could/can see who was online/offline inside the conversation. The person's photo would be greyed out at the bottom, and placed before the messages they hadn't seen. Admittedly, it was hard to start a conversation seeing who's online, but hey, everybody is online these days, just go for it anyway.

          • Fatty Bunter

            Not true. Not everyone is online all the time, which makes me just default to texting as I can no longer tell. It's frustrating.

          • Fatty Bunter

            Yep, same here. Was really looking forward to it and had to revert.

          • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

            This. I want to chat with people who are online. Not send a msg to someone and wait for them to see it when they get online and reply to me. I need a list of online contacts; contacts I actually chat with. Not every single person in my circles. I'm already using G+, Google. Don't push it so hard.

          • Brian Koppe

            Safwan, Fatty, Bikram, I share your frustrations. Please join me in sending feedback to Google about this! They won't fix the contacts list unless they hear our complaints. It's a shame, because I like so much else about Google Hangouts, but I absolutely hate the new handling of contacts and status.

          • Safwan Chowdhury

            unfortunately, i do not think they care what we think. they will just do their own thing and eventually phase out 'talk' completely so that it will not work

            edit: i love the design of hangouts in general but the problem is that they are trying to make a 'whatsapp'. this in itself is not a problem, but gtalk so far has been more of a msn messenger replacement for me and the way i use that type of chat app is very diff to whatsapp or viber type.

            i actually think facebook's "messenger" has the best chat app out at the moment. however, i have high hopes that within a year or so, hang outs will be much better...hopefully...

          • Matthew Fry

            Yeah it's weird. I enabled it in Gmail and now I've got a list of random people some online and some not. I can't tell if any of them are online.

      • Mark Ostrowski

        How did you do that? I want my old "Talk" back

        • Safwan Chowdhury

          go to play store and press uninstall. it will revert back to talk :)

          • Mark Ostrowski

            I did thanks. Did Talk ever have any updates I'm "missing out on" because I reverted? Just curious. Seems to be working just fine. And, like you said, it's not the comfort factor, it's the fact that the features are actually good and not found in Hangouts.

    • mechapathy

      Yeah, sure, but I feel like they knew all these features were going to be requested. it's like they knew we all wanted a unified messaging service, but didn't have it ready in time for I/O, so they just said "here, have this now, we'll finish it later."

  • Wilfredo Alarcon

    Goodbye GV. You will be missed. :'(

  • Robert Le Blah

    I really hope they don't break the ability for Obihai to connect. I use GV and Obi as my house phone, and love it.

  • mechapathy

    Meet Hangouts. The "eventually" chat client.

  • br_hermon

    I'm concerned this is going to mess up my current set up, if you will. I don't use GV as my cell number, text from it or use it as a visual voicemail. I use it as it's own entirely separate number, my "work" number in fact. It has it's own number, texting and own voice mail. And I want them separate for obvious reasons. I hope this merger doesn't mess things up! :/

    I wonder if there's anything I can do to prepare for the merging? (like get a second gmail address for my work number and just associate my GV number to that?)

    Also a complaint I have with hangouts, you can't delete individual messages. If you give someone a user name / password or send a private pic, there's no way to delete just that message. That needs fixed right away.

    • Gabe Stover

      Being able to delete specific messages is definitely needed for me too, for the reasons you mentioned. I also, for instance, don't need to always see links people have sent me / ones I've sent them in my chat history after the link's already been viewed. Welcoming GV integration if they do it well.

    • CM

      You are able to migrate your GV number to another gmail account.

      • br_hermon

        Yeah I had thought of that but I want to wait and see if there's any more official word from google before I make A more drastic step like that like that.

    • andy_o

      All you're doing when deleting the pic or message is deleting them from your phone, but the other party will still have them. For privacy, it does nothing much. And actually Hangouts/Talk does one better than everybody else, you can temporarily "turn history off" in the conversation (I think in Talk it was "private mode" or some such), which won't save the message to the history in gmail, but more importantly, the message will be deleted from all parties' conversations after 24 hours.

  • Itchy_Robot

    And make it work over wifi ... with no phone contract!!!

    • codemonkey85

      That is how it works... at least on desktop.

      Since Gtalk had voice calls over data, I'm guessing the VOIP option will eventually come to mobile as well.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/psychomaniac189 psychomaniac189

        except AT&T lol

        • codemonkey85

          *sigh* If only Google would just become a carrier already... maybe after they roll out Fiber across the country.

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Happy to hear it's confirmed to be on the radar. This is all I wanted, and much like Picasa Web being ignored for so long foreshadowed the new Google+ features, the stagnation of the Voice app foreshadows this. Why bother fixing what you're going to replace?

  • Jason Rittenhouse

    WAHOOOO! Not only is Voice here to stay, but by being rolled up into Hangouts, it will actually get active future development!

  • duse

    This is great to hear and exactly what we want. Not only do we need calling back in Gmail, we need Wi-Fi calling in the Hangouts Android app too! Which Talk never had. To enable true VoIP using Google Voice without using third party apps. With that, you would have complete cell service with only a Wi-Fi connection. It makes things like T-Mobile's 100 minute plan useful for many more people.

  • kamiller42

    If Google is having such a tough time integrating SMS into their messaging service, maybe they should talk with Yahoo, which has been doing it for years. http://messenger.yahoo.com/features/sms/

  • jonathan3579

    Personally, I don't want my normal texts being combined with my Google Voice account into one app. I like the separation.

    • Nick

      Doubt they'll remove the Messages app. It's a pretty essential part of the Android operating system. Hangouts may become the Google-experience alternative, but the Messages app will remain, along with the abundance of 3rd party messaging apps.

    • Freak4Dell

      I use GV for business, so I don't want this either, but I'm sure there will be a way to separate the two or disable the function. I do want my regular texts to be a part of the Hangouts app.

  • woj_tek

    I'm still can't get past all this happiness to reverting about 2 decades back to the era where no information about availability was, well, available and you ended up with gazzilion of "are you there?" "guess not, chat later"... srsly... that's the benefit of *INSTANT MESSENGING* that you know perfectly to whom you can chat and when...

    when I didn't want that I used simple e-mail... but not google is 'reinventing' chatting which is in fact... basically an e-mail, with short message... yay NOT....

    • Brian Koppe

      I love so much about Hangouts, but I agree with you on this. I hate the new contacts list and the lack of status information. Please send feedback to Google and let them know you're disappointed too. They won't fix it unless they get feedback from all of us!

  • eilegz

    first thing to do should be first make an option to sort contacts.... right now hangouts its a mess emails outside of g+ or gmail shouldnt be in contact list

  • Loyd Hutchings

    On G+ the day after Hangouts was released one of the people at Google in charge of it said that SMS and MMS was their number 1 user requested feature and that they'll work on it.

    • Thomas

      They backed down on that statement actually.

      • runderekrun

        Yeah immediately.

      • Loyd Hutchings

        WEAK! Without MMS and SMS its useless to me.

  • Rob

    IDK. That "hangouts" moniker just isn't doing it for me. I mean this Google Talk replacement is supposed to be more than just a place for people to hangout, right? It seems like Google is looking to finally create a true messaging hub, so IMHO, naming it Hangouts (a name that already was in use on another Google product) just seems to fall short.

  • JonJJon

    Should it still be the up button to the conversion list or should that really be the new sidebar button? Not sure if it qualifies for this use or not.

  • google ;)

    I am a die hard Google fan ,but I have no problem with saying they gave us crap with this one . I don't expect anything from Google, I Don't expect them to realize this ,or give me this. Although if you are going to release a product do it right , they knew SMS needed to be integrated and that it needed to have voice calling. They are not stupid , if you give us a product that is not ready , Dont rgive it to us.

    all this talk about it should come with the next android is dumb. They still have 30%of people on gingerbread because cell companys Dont put any gidduup in there updates they have everyone working agienst them yes , but that was not a reason to give us crap this time.

  • Spencer Hill
  • Alex Ford

    I wonder what "soon" means on the Google timeline.