Unfortunately, or fortunately if you value good health, I decided to participate in a “health challenge.” The goal is to eat healthier, exercise more, and hopefully, lose weight. Right now, I’m not feeling any of those benefits because of my raging caffeine withdrawal headache. This too shall pass.

An important part of the challenge is keeping in touch with the other participants. This includes sending encouraging messages — like go ahead and eat that big ol’ hamburger and french fries — or the week’s weight loss results to the group leader. The designated delivery method was through SMS or text messages.

Of course, as anyone who has ever participated in a group text knows, text messages are the worst avenue to communicate. As our group discovered, the SMS just wasn’t cutting it. Messages got lost, participants got confused, and the whole thing was general confusion all around. I even told my wife I didn’t want to participate in the challenge if I had to use MMS/SMS to communicate.

Google+ Hangouts

Enter Google Hangouts

However, being the “all knowing tech genius,” I casually suggested that we try a different approach to group messaging and suggested Google Hangouts.

The true benefit of Google Hangouts, at least in a group chat context, is it’s accessibility across platforms and its simple interface.

hangouts main

For instance, most of the challenge’s participants are Apple lovers, and iMessage works great when you’re in “the club.” But, there are a number of other members who know what a good mobile operating system is have Android phones. In these cases, Android users often make due with what they have. Most of the time this is fine, except when we’re talking about group messages.

Fortunately, Hangouts works for iOS and Android users, as well as from a desktop browser. Google even has a Chrome extension that allows you to place an adjustable Hangouts window on your desktop.


And even though our group consists of “shApple” people, they still managed to engage in the conversation.

Enter usability

The Hangouts interface is very easy to use.

First, Hangouts provides SMS and chat integration with your Google contacts. Check out this post for more information on that topic. If you need help “hanging out,” check out this post. I think, at least in terms of group messaging, the interface and display is the best.

Group texts come in as a string of comments — your comments on the right, everyone else’s on the left.

hangouts snip

Additionally, I love being able to see who’s engaging in and reading the content.

unread hangout

Or, at least actively following the conversation.

Hangouts helps keep you in touch

When you need to collaborate with a number of people, Hangouts helps. Also, don’t forget that Hangouts offers video conferencing capabilities, which I’ll probably use during week 3 of this challenge to trash talk my competition.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

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