Wanna hangout?

Please don't invite me to your Google Hangout

Posted on Sunday, 15 February, 2015

Google have created some crap experiences in their short time on Earth but Google+ hangouts takes the biscuit.

A Google hangout usually works like this:

The hangout is scheduled for a particular time. The time for the meeting arrives, you've got your coffee and are ready. The time passes, you stare at your screen, and think

"Oh, should I be starting the hangout? I thought someone was going to invite me. So how do I do that then?"

You then realise you're using your work Google account, and you can't find how to start a hangout. After some research you realise you might have to join Google+ (again, but this time with your work account). So you click through a series of annoying dialogs telling you all about how wonderful Google+ is and how it's going to change your life and everything. Finally a ton of spam and other shite appears on your screen, and there it is, something that you can click on and start a hangout.

A few minutes later everyone's had the same idea. You're working on your laptop, but then you get a beep on your phone. You take it out of your pocket and read the screen.

"John is inviting you to a hangout"

But wait, on my phone? Can I move it to my laptop? Before you can do anything, too late, the invite disappears.

Another beep, this time from the tablet device in the hall. I wonder what that is. I better check, could important. An email! From Google?

"Dave invited you to a hangout but you weren't available"

What? Who's Dave?

You get back to your laptop. Cheryl has joined the hangout you started. But Dave and John are talking on another hangout. Let me email John. I've got his contact, but, wait, Google won't let me copy the email address? Hang on, I'll type it in.

"Hi John, it seems you're in another hangout with Dave. Can you join the one I'm in with Cheryl?"

John receives the email. "How do I do that?", he thinks. "I know, I'll phone Malcolm on his mobile."

Mobile rings.

"Hi John .... no, it's alright, it not your fault ... yeah I know, it's shit isn't it .... "

Fast forward 15 minutes and everyone's managed to get on the same hangout. But then you realise Dave can't hear anyone. And John is speaking, but you can't hear him. And Cheryl keeps disappearing and reappearing. I can't share my screen because I'm using Linux*

(* It's actually much much worse than this if, like me, you use Linux. Let's not go there.)

It seems I'm not alone. If this pantomime fits your experience with Hangouts, here's some alternative suggestions to protect your sanity :

  • If you must use video chat, use this: vline. It's based on the same browser-based technology (WebRTC), but with all the wtfery of hangouts removed. It's dead simple and works great.
  • Otherwise, use a a tele-conference, like this one: http://www.unitedconferencing.com/

So...

over

No thanks!