I know there area lot of smart people at Google so the constant trainwreck that is Hangouts is baffling to me.
Never have I encountered a piece of chat software that is so confusing to so many people. I have been using chat software for a long time and am a tech-savvy person but I struggle understanding Hangouts. My relatives, who are scattered all over the world and are quite tech savvy, have been communicating amongst each other online for years with a variety of technologies from ICQ to MSN to Skype to GTalk, all struggle with Hangouts.
I know it's popular to bash UI/UX people on Slashdot and it's something I've never been comfortable with - UI/UX is an important part of software and I've worked with some phenomenal people. But it's like the Hangout team have decided to ignore all the previous years of the chat application design paradigms and have gone out of their way to overcomplicate the interfaces.
I am just perplexed at how hard it is to tell if people are online or offline in the Android app. The default views simply DO NOT SHOW this information - only a "last seen" timer. I assume this is intentional to try to make you just send messages anyway to get you using it like it's an SMS service, but fuck me if you want to actually have a chat with someone knowing whether they're online or away is important.
Some other specific gripes:
- On one of the rare occasions I had it running on my phone yesterday, I sent a message to my partner (overseas from me atm) to see if she wanted a chat. My wifi dropped at the same time, and Hangouts reported the message wasn't sent; I had to go out so just left. But it WAS sent, and my partner sat around swearing at me for asking to chat and then vanishing.
- When someone tries to voice call me it seems to ring in Google Talk in Gmail, but does not always answer reliably. I note they are in the process of removing the old Google Talk from Gmail and replacing it with Hangouts.
- When trying to call someone from Google Talk in Gmail it does not seem to reliably call them.
- Message delivery seems flaky - it is not uncommon for me to find out messages never arrived. (Though this seems to be almost exclusively when one end of the conversation is in the Android app).
I would LOVE a good, simple, cross-platform chat application at the moment. My friends and relatives have fragmented across a billion platforms.