In the wake of the tragic events in Brussels today and the recent violence and bombings in Turkey, Google has made calls to both countries free via Hangouts, Hangouts Dialer, and Google Voice. Calls to people on Belgium's biggest carriers — Lycamobile, Mobistar, Proximus, and Telenet — are free, along with calls to all landlines in Turkey. Google's announcement follows earlier news of all major U.S. mobile carriers offering similar free calling and texting to Belgium (Turkey was not mentioned).
In addition, for the Brussels area, Google has been publishing Google Now cards with transit updates, keeping the public informed and up-to-date, plus a direct link to the Government Crisis Centre. Read More
Google is changing Hangouts to place peer-to-peer calls when possible. A notification containing the news is now appearing for users when they initiate a call with one of their contacts. Read More
Hangouts updates are usually an opportunity to be let down, but not this time. Get ready to feel a mix of excitement, annoyance, and concern; a feeling that, as far as I'm aware, does not have a name. So let's just say we're all about to feel a little "Hangouts." The v7.0 update is starting to hit devices, and it finally adds quick reply. However, it also nags you to install Google Messenger. Perhaps the rumor about SMS being removed is going to come true soon? Read More
Google, for all its skill in the realms of mobile search, advertising, email, and even operating systems, has never been particularly good at the social thing. Even now, I suspect, someone at Google is fuming at the notion that the company "isn't very good" at messaging or social networks and pointing animatedly at the tens of millions of Google+ and Hangouts users. The problem is and has always been that for whatever success Google has had in social and messaging platforms, it is constantly undercut by the actions of Google itself that say otherwise. There is near-yearly reworking, redesigning, or branching off of these products in ways that very strongly suggest they aren't getting the results Google's Alphabet overlords consider acceptable. Read More
The issues with Hangouts on Android are becoming legendary at this point. It's an app that has suffered from a multitude of bugs, sluggishness issues, and incomplete features over the years. Now, a rumor posted by Phandroid says that Google is going to pull one of the more problematic (and important) features from Hangouts in a future update—SMS and MMS. Read More
Hey, do you use [insert instant messaging or video chatting service here]? No? Well, what do you use? Weird, no one else I know uses that. Here, just create an account real quick. Please?
Yeah, we're all tired of this conversation. Hangouts has managed to dodge it to some degree because so many people already have the required Google account. But what about those folks who don't? And do you really want to share your email address with this guy who's reaching out to you?
Soon, you won't have to. This week Google is pushing out an update to Hangouts that removes that requirement. Read More
After a series of shootings and explosions occurred in Paris Friday evening, Google has made calls to France via its Hangouts service temporarily free. Callers can use the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, and the web to place calls to the country without incurring the normal international charges. The Google+ post making the announcement did not specify any particular countries, so presumably free calls are available from any location where Hangouts can be used. It's not clear if Google Voice users are also being given free calls. Read More
Remember that time you were super jazzed about Hangouts 4.0, and when it finally came out, it wasn't that great? How about when v5.0 began its rollout, and it was basically the same thing, but with working animated GIFs? Version 5.1 is now making its way out into the world, but if you weren't happy with the previous releases, you're probably not going to be too thrilled with this one. It looks like a relatively light bug fix update, and nothing more.
It's probably no coincidence that a v5.1 update was also just released on the iOS App Store with a very sparse changelog. Read More
Google has been updating Hangouts a lot lately in an attempt to make it less terrible. It's definitely improving, but still has a way to go. With all the updating we've missed a few little changes along the way, and this is a particularly useful one—Hangouts will switch between the speaker and earpiece for voicemail depending on whether or not you've got the phone to your ear. Read More