New Delhi: Google's much used instant messaging platform, Google Talk (also known as GTalk or GChat), was ignored by Google for some time now in terms of new feature additions. Google has now reinvented Google Talk as Google Plus Hangouts that in a way integrates Google Plus video Hangouts and Google Plus Messenger and also does away with the some much loved features of Google Talk.
The new Google Plus Hangouts replaces the Google Talk app on Android devices. Hangouts is also available on Apple's iOS and as a Chrome-based app for desktops. Google has not included a replacement for the classic installable Google Talk client. In fact to use Hangouts on your desktop you will be asked to install the Chrome Web browser, if you don't already have that.
Unlike the old Google Talk app that came pre-installed on Android devices and was not available on Google Play, the Hangouts app is there to download and install.
Google says that in the new Google+ Hangouts group conversations are better than before. Hangouts also allow users to turn any a conversation into a video call with up to 10 participants. Users can also add visual and sound effects to their conversations and can watch YouTube videos together.
Unlike Google Talk, Hangouts does not support the much-used 'invisible' status and also does away with the send files option. Instead users can collaborate through Google Drive. Google has not yet integrated its SMS and Google Voice services with Hangouts.
Hangouts can also be used inside Gmail, quite like Chat. Users can upgrade Chat to Hangouts by clicking on the photo icon in Gmail's chat list.
Google with the new Hangouts is also pushing its other products, piggybacking on the popularity of Google Talk.
While many of the new features are attractive, some users may want to retain their old Google Talk clients just for the sake of file sharing or being invisible or if they for some reason that they don't want to use Google Chrome.
The Google Plus Hangouts Android app works on Android 2.3+ and the Apple app works on iOS 6.1+ across iPhone 4+, iPad 2+, iPad Mini and iPod Touch 4th generation and the desktop app requires the Chrome runtime.
The Hangouts app is being first made available to only select Android devices and Google says it will in time make it available for all Android 2.3+ devices, including tablets.
Google has now redirected the old Google Talk download page talk.google.com to google.com/hangouts but the old Google Talk downloadable chat application can still be downloaded from here.
The existing Google Chat installations will continue to work, until, of course, Google decides to stop support.