Hey Android owners, did you notice that Google Talk is gone? That's right: if you haven't updated lately, Google has replaced the Google Talk client on Android smartphones and tablets with a standalone Hangouts app. Google+ Messenger is still around, as is Google Voice, the company's main VoIP client. However so far it's unclear what will become of Messenger, and Google's Director of Product Management for Real-Time Communications Nikhyl Singhai reports that Hangouts will actually be the future of Google Voice.
"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," he said on Monday. "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."
He goes on to say that Hangouts is designed to be "the future of Google Voice", and that future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly. Eventually Google may offer just one client that does it all similar to Microsoft's own Skype service provides.
"Hangouts lets you send messages, photos, emoji, and make video calls with your friends and family," reads the service description. "Since Hangouts is available in Gmail, Google+, on your iOS or Android device, and as a Chrome extension, you can keep in touch whether you’re at home or on-the-go."
Google reports that there are over 800 emoji to choose from when writing messages, and users can even take pictures with their device's camera and immediately send them to friends, or send images already available on the internal storage. Video calls from Hangouts lets users have face-to-face conversations with up to 10 people.
"It’s easy to invite specific friends or Google+ circles," Google states. "If someone is unavailable, Hangouts will send a missed call notification and the person can call you back. Watch YouTube clips together, doodle with your kids when you’re away from home, or share the latest news and see everyone’s reactions live."