Google's notion of bringing its Voice, Chat/Talk, Hangouts, and related products all under the umbrella of "Google Hangouts" is awesome. The way in which those tools were integrated into the rest of the Google ecosystem was pretty haphazard (why can I place a call from Gmail but not from Google Voice?). Seeing a concentrated effort to use the same messaging system is great.
I've switched to the new Hangouts on my personal account and I've found a few things that bug me:
- There's no way to globally disable logging within Google. I can turn it off per-chat, but I can't disable it all the time always. I get there are some benefits to this -- device synchronization and such -- but man it's annoying. Of note, messages to/from people are recorded as separate emails with special headers that cause Gmail to display them a certain way. This conflicts tremendously with a filters hack I use, causing all my outgoing IMs to appear my Inbox. I had to create a filter for "in:chats from:<me>" to skip the Inbox; the filters UI says it'll never match anything but I know better.
- The iOS app is nice! I wish I could tell it to not push notifications anytime anyone messages me. It's great if it's my primary SMS app, but it's not -- it's my IM app, and I don't need that from my phone. There's no way to permanently disable notifications; I can only do it for up to 72 hours at a time. Just give me an "unread" badge and stop it with the sounds and the banners. Nevermind! This one was just my dumb. But man, it wasn't easy; I had to disable notifications from the iOS settings instead of from the Hangouts app itself. No way to just disable notifications from the app if I wanted to do that.
- Dropping XMPP support has been the biggest complaint I've heard. I don't honestly care, as a user; what I do care about is that I can continue to use a desktop app (in this case, Adium) to chat with people. Of course that brings its own mess of problems, particularly around message/state synchronization, but for me it's far more convenient to cmd-tab to Adium than it is to cmd-tab to Safari and then find the right tabs.
- When I initiate an OTR chat session in Adium, any other screens syncronizing that chat (whether it's Gmail, G+, or the iOS app) all just show garbage. I get that's how the OTR chat looks on the wire, but man that's dumb. I'm guessing OTR support isn't really a priority, but I can totally see demand for an incognito mode for chat -- one that does more than just disable logging and enable SSL to Google.
- The synchronization is a little bothersome because it's doesn't include things like which windows I've opened or closed. So if I respond to a message from Adium or Google+, and then close the window, Gmail still has the message boxes open. (Yes I know this is harder to do when supporting Adium, but even within the Google web apps it's annoying.)
- Personally haven't verified this one way or the other, but I hope that Google Voice's SMS capability gets merged in with this, so that I can SMS with folks using the same systems. Maybe they could also fix the issue with Google Voice dropping incoming MMSes. These are a couple of the reasons I switched away from Google Voice.
Google, you are so close! A couple more tweaks and you will be perfect!